SMPA alumna dies alongside congresswoman in Indiana car crash

Emma Thomson, an alumna and the communications director for Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., was one of four people to die Wednesday in a Northern Indiana car crash that also killed Walorski. She was 28.

The driver of another vehicle crossed the center line and caused the head-on collision with the vehicle carrying Thomson, Walorski and Zachery Potts – another of Walorski’s aides – killing all four people involved, according to the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office. Thomson graduated with a degree in political communications in 2016 and began working as Walorski’s communications director in July of last year, according to her LegiStorm profile.

The School of Media and Public Affairs tweeted that they were “heartbroken” by the death of Thomson.

“Emma was a wonderful person and we will miss her dearly,” they said in a Tweet. “We send our condolences to her family and friends and all those involved in this tragic accident.”

In her final year at GW, Thomson served as a press assistant for Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., during his 2016 presidential campaign. She then served as communications director for Rep. Michael C. Burgess, R-Texas., from 2017 to 2019, and Rep. John Joyce, R-Pa., from 2019 to 2021, where she also served as campaign manager for Joyce’s successful 2020 election campaign.

“Today Emma Thomson who did an amazing job on my 2016 Presidential campaign lost her life in an auto accident in Indiana,” Rubio said in a tweet. “She was a smart & talented communicator and an amazing young woman.”

Walorski, who was 58, represented Indiana’s second congressional district since 2013, and served on the House Ethics Committee. Originally from South Bend, Indiana, she previously worked as a missionary and as a journalist.

“Dean Swihart, Jackie’s husband, was just informed by the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office that Jackie was killed in a car accident this afternoon,” a release from Walorski’s office states. “She has returned home to be with her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Potts, an alum of Indiana University, had worked with Walorski since 2015, and had been Walorski’s district director since 2020. Potts also served as the chair of the St. Joseph County Republican Party.

“Zac Potts, St Joseph County Chairman was with Jackie in the accident and is now in heaven with her as well,” the St. Joseph County Republican Party said in a tweet. “Please pray for all involved and their families.”

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