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Cause determined in crash that killed Indiana Rep. Walorski, 3 others

Walorski, two staff members and the driver of another vehicle were killed in the Aug. 3 crash. A probe found the SUV she was in was making an unsafe pass.
Jackie Walorski
Rep. Jackie Walorski speaks at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Better Together Military Public-Private Partnership launch event in Washington, D.C. in 2016.Larry French / AP Images for Boys & Girls Clubs

The probe into the August crash that killed U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and three others faulted the driver of the SUV she was riding in for trying to make an unsafe pass.

The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office said in its conclusion Friday that the driver of the Toyota RAV4 carrying the congresswoman was headed north when he initiated a pass of a flatbed and collided with an oncoming Buick.

The Aug. 3 collision took place in Walorski’s district on State Route 19, a two-lane roadway near the town of Wakarusa, about 21 miles southeast of South Bend.

Also killed was her district director Zachery Potts, 27, who was driving; her communications director, Emma Thomson, 28; and the driver of the Buick, Edith Schmucker.

Potts had slowed to create distance with the flat-bed, then accelerated to 82 mph to make the pass, sheriff's investigators said in a statement.

"The Toyota was observed slowing, as what was described as creating distance between the truck and the Toyota," according to the statement, which cited a witness driving behind the SUV.

"The Toyota was then observed accelerating to a high rate of speed, closing the distance to the unidentified truck," the sheriff's office said. "As the Toyota neared the rear of the truck, it swerved into the southbound lane at which it collided with the southbound Buick."

There was no evidence that phones were being used prior to or during the crash, and there was no indication of mechanical failures, the sheriff's office said.

Representatives and family of the late congresswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A Nov. 8 special general election is scheduled to fill Walorski's seat.

Indiana Republicans picked Rudy Yakym, an executive with Elkhart distribution company Kem Krest, to replace Walorski on the ballot. He will face Democrat Paul Steury, a high school science teacher, and Libertarian William Henry.