The news was a major shock on Capitol Hill and immediately sparked an outpouring of grief and memories from lawmakers and aides who paid tribute to the life and careers of the congresswoman and the two staffers.
Walorski, who was 58, represented Indiana’s 2nd congressional district and had previously served as a member of the Indiana House of Representatives. She began serving in Congress in 2013.
The congresswoman was seen inside the House Republican conference as someone who could one day rise to the GOP leadership ranks, and her name had been pushed for the position of conference chairwoman in the past. She had been a member of the House GOP deputy whip team.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Walorski’s death.
“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, has just been notified by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon. She has gone home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Please keep his family in your thoughts and prayers. . We will have no further comment at this time,” read a message from the congresswoman’s office that McCarthy tweeted.
A statement released by the MP’s office said two staff members also died. “In addition to the devastating loss of MP Walorski, it is with broken hearts that I announce the passing of two dedicated members of her staff, Zach Potts and Emma Thomson. They were the epitome of public servants who cared deeply of the work they have done,” said the statement from Tim Cummings, the MP’s chief of staff.
McCarthy called the MP’s death “absolutely devastating” in a lengthy statement released later Wednesday. “Jackie was a dear friend, a trusted adviser and the epitome of integrity who won the admiration and respect of all her colleagues in the House,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has ordered flags flown at half-mast on Capitol Hill in response to the congresswoman’s death, Pelosi’s deputy chief of staff Drew Hammill announced Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Pelosi said the congresswoman “lived a life of service” and “was admired by colleagues on both sides of the aisle for her personal kindness.”
House Minority Whip Steve Scalise said in a statement that Walorski “was a champion for the people of Indiana, and she will be remembered for her kindness, tenacity and commitment to helping others.”
The congresswoman was the top Republican on the House Ethics Committee, a spot that put her in line to become panel chair if the GOP regains a majority in the House in the upcoming midterm elections. She also served as a GOP member for a subcommittee of the powerful House Ways and Means committee.
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming tweeted in reaction to the news, “There was no more dedicated or efficient Congresswoman than Jackie,” adding, “I was proud to be her friend.”
Walorski died in a car accident, according to a statement from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office.
“A northbound passenger car traveled left of center and collided head-on with the southbound sport utility vehicle,” the statement said.
All three occupants of the southbound vehicle died of their injuries, the statement said.
This story was updated with additional developments on Wednesday.
CNN’s Amy Simonson contributed to this report.