Elkhart Co. Sheriff’s Office releases final update on crash that killed Rep. Walorski, 3 others

Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 2:00 PM EDT
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ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office has concluded its investigation into a crash last month that killed four people, including Indiana Rep. Jackie Walorski.

The crash happened back on Aug. 3 on State Road 19 south of County Road 44. The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office has determined that the cause of the crash was a Toyota RAV4—driven by Zachery Potts, the district director for Walorski—attempting to pass another vehicle on a two-lane roadway at an excessive speed.

Police say the Toyota RAV4 was heading north on State Road 19 while traveling behind a flat-bed truck. A witness who was traveling behind both the Toyota RAV4 and the unidentified truck observed the RAV4 slowing, as what was described as creating distance between the truck and the RAV4.

The RAV4 was then observed accelerating to a high rate of speed, closing the distance to the unidentified truck. As the RAV4 neared the rear of the truck, it swerved into the southbound lane and collided with a southbound Buick driven by Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee.

Evidence from the crash reconstruction, including detailed data from the airbag control module (often referred to as the “black box”), showed that the Toyota was traveling at 82 miles per hour prior to the crash. In addition, it showed that the vehicle’s motor was at idle speed, showing that the vehicle was “coasting”, with speed reducing to 77 miles per hour prior to airbag deployment.

The airbag control module data also showed that Potts steered the vehicle left just prior to the crash. The amount of steering input was consistent with normal operation of the vehicle and was consistent with the eyewitness account.

All cell phone information was examined from all occupants of both vehicles. There is no evidence or information that phones were being used prior to or during the crash.

Inspections of the vehicles were conducted. The inspections and evidence at the scene showed no indication of mechanical failures.

All the evidence and information gathered is consistent with someone attempting to pass another vehicle on a two-lane roadway.

In addition to the crash update, the Elkhart County Coroner released the cause of death for everyone who died in this crash:

  • Jackie Walorski: Dislocation of the cervical spine due to automobile striking automobile. The manner of death is accidental.
  • Zachery Potts (Walorski District Director): Multiple injuries due to automobile striking automobile. The manner of death is accidental.
  • Emma Thomson (Walorski Communications Director): Multiple injuries due to automobile striking automobile. The manner of death is accidental.
  • Edith Schmucker: Multiple injuries due to automobile striking automobile. The manner of death is accidental.

The full crash report is listed below:

(Elkhart County Sheriff's Office)
(Elkhart County Sheriff's Office)
(Elkhart County Sheriff's Office)
(Elkhart County Sheriff's Office)
(Elkhart County Sheriff's Office)

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