Rep. Jackie Walorski died in a car accident last month. The details that emerged compound the deep tragedy.
Investigators believe that staffer Zachery Potts, who was driving at the time of the accident that killed Walorski and two others, was "at fault" in the Aug. 3 crash, Fox News reported. It appeared to be driver error with speed as a contributing factor.
"Our investigation has determined that the cause of the crash was driving left of center with a contributing factor of excessive speed," a news release from the Elkhart County Sheriff's Office Friday said. "The at-fault vehicle was the Toyota RAV4 driven by Zachery Potts.
Potts was driving Walorski, 58, and another staffer, 28-year-old Emma Thomson, on an Indiana highway. The man reportedly veered into oncoming traffic and collided with 56-year-old Edith Schmucker, who was also killed.
Just before the crash, Potts was seen tailgating a flatbed truck. For a time, he backed off to make space between the two vehicles but then accelerated before swerving into oncoming traffic.
"The Toyota was then observed accelerating to a high rate of speed, closing the distance to the unidentified truck," the report stated. "As the Toyota neared the rear of the truck, it swerved into the southbound lane at which it collided with the southbound Buick driven by Edith Schmucker."
Recorded airbag control data, often likened to a "black box" on airplanes, concluded that the vehicle was coasting at 82 miles per hour for five seconds before the crash. At the time of impact, the speed dropped to 77 miles per hour as the Toyota steered to the left "consistent with normal operation of the vehicle and was consistent with the eyewitness account."
Cell phone data from all involved concluded it wasn't a factor, nor was a mechanical breakdown. "All of the evidence and information gathered is consistent with someone attempting to pass another vehicle on a two-lane roadway," the report concluded.
The crash was a tragedy that cut four lives short. Determining who was at fault does nothing to reduce the human cost of it.