Elkhart County Sheriff's Office releases official cause of crash resulting in deaths of Rep. Walorski, three others

NOW: Elkhart County Sheriff’s Office releases official cause of crash resulting in deaths of Rep. Walorski, three others


ELKHART COUNTY, Ind. - The Elkhart County Sheriff's Office has completed the investigation into the crash that killed four people, including Rep. Jackie Walorski, on August 3.

The investigation determined that the cause of the crash was driving left of center with a contributing factor of excessive speed, reports said.

The at-fault vehicle was the Toyota RAV4 driven by Zachery Potts, according to reports.

According to the investigation, the RAV4, driven by Potts, was northbound on State Road 19, south of County Road 44, and traveling behind a flat-bed truck.

A witness traveling behind the RAV4 reported seeing the RAV4 slow down and then accelerate behind the flat-bed truck.

As the RAV4 neared the rear of the truck, it swerved into the southbound lane, colliding with the southbound Buick driven by Edith Schmucker, according to reports.

Evidence from the crash reconstruction and data from the airbag control module showed that the RAV4 was traveling at 82 miles per hour approximately five seconds before the crash.

Data also showed that the vehicle's motor was at idle speed, meaning that the vehicle was "coasting," with the speed reducing to 77 miles per hour milliseconds before airbags deployed.

The airbag control module data also showed that Potts steered the vehicle left just before the crash.  

There is no evidence that phones were being used before or during the crash, according to cell phone information collected from all occupants of both vehicles.

Inspections of the vehicles and evidence at the scene showed no indication of mechanical failures of either vehicle, reports said.

All evidence gathered is consistent with someone trying to pass another vehicle on a two-lane road, reports said.

The area of the crash is a no passing zone and the speed limit is 55 miles per hour, according to the crash report.

The deaths of Walorski, Potts, Schmucker, and Emma Thomson have been ruled accidental, according to the Elkhart County Coroner's Office.

The Elkhart County Sheriff's Office consulted with Indiana State Police for an independent review of the collected information. Indiana State Police came to the same conclusions as the sheriff's office.

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