New information came out yesterday afternoon in the highway death of Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.-2nd) and two of her staff. Simply put, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s office got it wrong, and it was Walorski’s car that veered across the line. This raises a host of other questions about the crash.
The latest on the Walorski crash
- The crash happened at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time, on State Road 19 near a roundabout intersection with State Road 119.
- Rep. Walorski, Communications Director Emma Thompson, and St. Joseph County Republican Chairman Zachery Potts, all died of their injuries.
- Edith Schmucker, 56, the driver (and sole occupant) of the other car, also died. First responders pronounced her dead at the scene.
But shortly after 4:00 p.m. yesterday, the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office released a statement with this additional information:
- The Walorski car was traveling northbound, and the Schmucker car southbound. This reverses the directions from the Wednesday press release. But this also agrees with the report from Radio Station WMNC-FM in Mishawaka.
- Zachery Potts was driving the Walorski car. “For reasons that are unknown,” it was Potts who strayed over the center line, not Schmucker.
This also explains why a local television station reported Wednesday night that the Sheriff’s Office had retracted their earlier statement. The South Bend Tribune couldn’t confirm the retraction. Perhaps the Sheriff’s Office didn’t want to say anything then. On Thursday afternoon, they did.
What this means
First, Edith Schmucker was totally innocent of any wrongdoing or inattentiveness. True enough, part of defensive driving is watching carefully any oncoming car on a two-lane road, in case it veers. But this kind of accident can happen too fast for anyone to notice until too late.
Second, this puts the onus squarely on Mr. Potts. The simplest thing to assume is that something distracted him. Was it his cellphone? Had he forgotten to connect it electronically to his car’s radio so he could answer hands-free? Or did one of his two passengers say something that distracted him? Maybe some people shouldn’t talk while driving, either on the phone or to a passenger.
But CNAV repeats some of its earlier suggestions for investigation. What were the conditions of the two cars? Did anyone tamper with Walorski’s car? What was Mr. Potts’ medical condition? The driver of any car is part of a system, any part of which can cause a crash. That’s an elementary principle anyone learns in driving school. So it’s worth examining Mr. Potts’ medical record, and performing a complete autopsy on Mr. Potts, at least. That includes toxicology tests, to examine for alcohol or drugs.
Another motive against Walorski?
At 4:44 p.m. Eastern Time, World Net Daily published a critique of the obituary that appeared in The Washington Post. That paper puts all its articles behind a pay wall. But other social commentators noticed this ending of the obit:
Walorski voted against certifying President Biden’s victories in both Arizona and Pennsylvania after the Jan. 6 attacks on the U.S. Capitol that left more than 100 law enforcement officers injured.
Twitter user Ellen Carmichael quoted the above, then pointedly criticized the Post for lack of respect for the dead.
Lay aside for the moment the statistics from the January 6 event, and whether they are even accurate. Look at what the Post has against her:
- Voting against certifying the election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania after Congress hastily reconvened that day, then later
- Voting against the second impeachment of the then President.
We have seen American political discourse deteriorate to the point that wishing a political enemy dead is now acceptable behavior. (At least, from the left.) Now suppose someone took such sentiments seriously? Walorski and her staff were returning from a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Claypool, Indiana. From there to the accident scene requires driving west, then north. Sun glare would not be an issue at 12:30 p.m. Suppose, then, someone “slipped a Mickey Finn” to Potts? That’s the reason for the toxicology tests. They wouldn’t expect to find alcohol, not at that hour – but they could find something else.
As before, the Sheriff’s and Coroner’s offices are still investigating. Thus far, the chances overwhelmingly favor an accident due to driver distraction. But we investigate accidents to make sure they really are accidents, and learn how to avoid them in future.
That includes ruling out bad acts, and bad actors. Congresswoman Walorski understood that; hence the votes with which The Washington Post took issue. Had she survived the incident, she would demand an investigation, and deserves no less.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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