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Friends remember US Rep. Jackie Walorski, 2 staffers killed in car crash

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Sadness and love filled the Statehouse this morning for U.S. representative Jackie Walorski.

“Her legacy for service and what she did with enthusiasm and energy will be long remembered,” State Representative Timothy Wesco, a Republican from Osceola, said.

Two others with Walorski also died in the crash: The St. Joseph County Republican Chair, Zachery Potts, 27, of Mishawaka, and Walorski’s communications director, Emma Thomson, 28, of Washington, D.C.

Jackie Walorski was a wife, a friend, and a public servant. She died in a crash Wednesday afternoon in northern Indiana. She was 58 years old.

“It’s a horror and it’s a tragedy, and it’s going to be hard for the people in the Statehouse and in Congress to get used to her not being here,” former Indiana State Senate member, Jim Merritt, said.

The next day, Wesco made a heartfelt tribute to his friend in the House Chamber.

“My predecessor, my mentor, my constituent, my friend Jackie Walorski,” Wesco said. “She was a tremendous gift in our community, and passionate in everything that she did.”

Walorski was a South Bend native who had served Indiana in Congress since 2013. She was passionate about agriculture and food policy in Congress, and often worked across the aisle on those issues.

As a member of the Indiana House, Walorski opposed gambling expansion proposals and pushed anti-abortion legislation.

“People like Jackie Walorski don’t come along very often, and I would hope that everybody in the Statehouse were inspired by her work,” Merritt said.

Friends say she loved giving back to her community.

“If you’d text her, she’d text you right back, and she’d call you,” Merritt said. “She was a very accessible member of Congress as well as just a good friend.”

“Her faith was central to her as a person, and her faith is what gives us hope today,” Wesco said.