‘Black Box’ Pulled from Republican Representative’s Wrecked Car, Cause of Fatal Crash Discovered: Sheriff

Actions by the driver of the car in which Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski was riding have been cited as the cause of the crash that killed the Indiana lawmaker and three other people last month. The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department released its report on the accident Friday. The report said Zach Potts, 27, was driving about 80 miles per hour at the time of the head-on collision, which took place around 12:30 p.m. on Aug. 3. Walorski, 58, Potts and Walorski staff member Emma Thomson, 28, were all killed in the crash. Edith Schmucker, 56, of Nappanee, Ind., who was in the car struck by Potts, also died. According to the report. Potts was trying to pass a vehicle, according to the South Bend Tribune. “All of the evidence and information gathered is consistent with someone attempting to pass another vehicle on a two-lane roadway,” the report said. “Our investigation has determined that the cause of the crash was driving left of center with a contributing factor of excessive speed,” Elkhart County Sheriff Jeff Siegel wrote. “The at-fault vehicle was the Toyota RAV4 driven by Zachery Potts.” The report said data from what it called the Toyota’s “black box” showed the vehicle in which Walorski was riding was traveling at 82 miles per hour five seconds before the crash. The driver took his foot off the gas just before impact, which meant the vehicle was going 77 miles per hour milliseconds before impact. The speed limit on that highway where the crash took place, Indiana Route 19, is 55 miles per hour. The report said a witness told police that the vehicle in which Walorski was riding had been behind a flatbed truck, according to Fox News. “The Toyota was then observed accelerating to a high rate of speed, closing the distance to the unidentified truck,” the report says. “As the Toyota neared the rear of the truck, it swerved into the southbound lane at which [time] it collided with the southbound Buick driven by Edith Schmucker.” The report said there was no sign of mechanical failure in the crash, according to WNDU-TV. The report also said there was no indication anyone involved in the crash was using a cell phone at the time of the accident. Officials did not respond Friday to questions concerning toxicology tests, the South Bend Tribune reported. Walorski had been running to keep her 2nd Congressional District seat. She has been replaced on the Republican ballot by businessman Rudy Yakym. Democrat Paul Steury is challenging Yakym, according to the Associated Press. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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