On Wednesday morning, while President Joe Biden was giving opening remarks at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, he called out for the late Representative Jackie Walorski by accident. Walorski had co-sponsored a bill to fund the conference before she passed away, and before her loss, she was responsible for calling attention to the conference.

“Jackie, can you please come here? Where can I find Jackie? “As he looked across the room at the about 500 individuals that were there, he inquired. “We were expecting her to show up.”

Walorski, a Republican congresswoman from Indiana who was 58 years old, passed away on August 3 in her home state after being involved in a two-car accident at Nappanee, which is roughly 30 miles southeast of South Bend.

In addition to the driver of the other car, the head-on crash claimed the lives of Walorski’s communications director, Emma Thomson, who was 28 years old, and Zachery Potts, who was 27 years old and chair of the Republican Party in St. Joseph County.

The White House did not immediately reply to a request for comment that PEOPLE made on the apparent mishap that occurred on Wednesday.

Shortly after Walorski’s demise, the White House honored her memory by flying flags at half-staff in her honor. Additionally, President Obama and First Lady Jill Biden made a joint statement about Walorski’s loss.

According to NPR, the statement released in August read, “I enjoyed her participation as we organize for a historic White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health this autumn that will be defined by her profound caring for the challenges of rural America.” The conference will take place in the fall.

The statement went on to say, “We send our deepest condolences to her husband, Dean, to the families of her staff members, Zachery Potts and Emma Thomson, who lost their lives while serving the public, and to the people of Indiana’s Second District who lost a representative who was one of their own.”

According to NBC News, the long-serving representative played a significant role in the legislation that ultimately resulted in the financing of the conference, which also attracted roughly one thousand guests who participated virtually.

In October of last year, Walorski, along with Representative Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts), Senator Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana), introduced a bill that was supported by members of both parties and both chambers of Congress. This bill is what made it possible for the second national White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health to take place on Wednesday.

The first conference of its kind took place a little more than half a century ago, and it resulted in the establishment and expansion of programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the National School Breakfast and Lunch Program. All of these programs are aimed at ensuring that everyone has access to adequate nutrition.

Since 2013, Walorski has served as the representative for Indiana’s Second Congressional District. She was able to secure the Republican nomination for reelection in May, and she was planning to defend her congressional seat against the Democratic rival Paul Steury in the midterm elections that would take place in November.

Rudy Yakym was chosen as the candidate to represent the Republican Party in the next election to replace Dan Walorski. This decision was made by the Indiana Republican Party last month.

According to Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer’s statement, “Rudy will be a powerful advocate for northern Indiana and continue Jackie Walorski’s tradition of fighting for conservative ideals in Washington, D.C.”

By Anna

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