- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A Solomons woman known for her commitment to community volunteerism died Tuesday evening after her vehicle spun out of control, slid across the grass median on Route 4 and hit another vehicle.
Sheryl Marie Jones Alu, 60, past chair of the Calvert County Ethics Commission and longtime community volunteer, died at the scene when her vehicle collided with another car.
At 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, Maryland State Police Prince Frederick barrack troopers and Calvert County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the area of Route 4 and German Chapel Road in Port Republic for a reported car accident, according to an MSP press release.
Police said Jones Alu was driving a 1997 Mercedes Benz north on Route 4. As she changed from the slow lane to the fast lane, the Mercedes began to slide sideways and spin out of control, the press release states. Near German Chapel Road, the Mercedes crossed the grass median and traveled into the path of traffic traveling south on Route 4.
A 2013 Jeep Wrangler, driven by Donte M. Waters, 35, of Port Republic, was traveling south on Route 4 and hit the passenger’s side of the Mercedes. Waters and Hugh McDonald Blackman Jr., 41, of Port Republic, a passenger in the Jeep, were taken to Calvert Memorial Hospital by the Prince Frederick Volunteer Rescue Squad with non-life threatening injuries, the press release states.
Jones Alu died at the scene, police said.
In January 2012, Jones Alu became affiliated with the law firm Davis, Upton & Palumbo in Prince Frederick and handled employment and labor law cases.
Mark Davis, an attorney with the firm, said aside from working at the law firm, Jones Alu contributed much of her time to the community and was “a good sounding board” to those in leadership positions.
“People really valued her leadership, good advice and common sense,” he said. “She was always very professional. She was very smart, very accomplished and very knowledgeable in the areas of law she practiced with us. … She’s just going to be sorely missed. It’s going to leave a big hole.”
Over the years, Jones Alu had been a volunteer for the Compensation Review Board, Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center Board of Directors, Calvert County Lighting Task Force, Calvert County Redistricting Committee, Calvert County Chamber of Commerce, Safe Harbor Committee and Calvert Memorial Hospital Board of Directors, of which she was chair, said Anita Maher, temporary office clerk for the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners, in an email.
Although Jones Alu volunteered on many committees and organizations throughout the community, the last 16 years Jones Alu devoted to the ethics commission, said Calvert County Commissioner Susan Shaw (R).
“The time and energy and commitment … that she devoted to the ethics commission was really striking,” Shaw said. “She told me that she was spending about one day a week on ethics commission business. … Somebody who would devote a day a week to a volunteer position — that’s a very major commitment.”
Ethics commission vice chairman Charles Bucy said he’s known Jones Alu for about 16 years and worked closely with her on the commission.
“It was great,” he said of working with Jones Alu. “She was a brilliant woman. … She was excellent on details, a wonderful writer and had very good judgment. She was a real asset to the county and to the ethics commission.”
Bucy said Jones Alu was dedicated to upholding the principles of the ethics commission to a very high standard. He described her as a person who would “put her all” into whatever volunteer work she was doing.
“She was committed to her position,” he said.
Calvert County Commissioner Evan Slaugenhoupt (R) said he met Jones Alu when he joined the ethics commission in about 2008. He described Jones Alu as a “very detailed, very professional” person.
One of the most important things Slaugenhoupt said he noticed about Jones Alu during the time he served with her is that she ensured the privacy of anyone presenting an allegation as well as the privacy of the accused.
“She was very cognizant of the need to protect their privacies,” he said. “Her big concern was that everyone was treated fairly and in a professional manner.”
Commissioner Gerald W. “Jerry” Clark (R), a friend of Jones Alu, said she had been involved in “many committees and organizations throughout the county” during the last 20 years. Clark called Jones Alu a “brilliant young lady” and a “real go-getter.”
“Once she took on a task, she drove it to the finish, and a very successful finish,” he said. “… It’s such a tragedy that we’d lose someone of her talents at such a young stage of life.”
Clark said not only was Jones Alu a good person, but she was also a wonderful friend. He said she had a “real love for animals” and had two dogs that she loved very much.
“You just can’t say enough good things about Sheryl. It was such a tragedy and such a shock,” he said of finding out about her death. “She most definitely was part of the infrastructure of the volunteerism … of Calvert. … She was just a wonderful person. I know that she’ll be missed.”
Although the cause of Jones Alu’s accident is still unknown, Det. Sgt. A. Paton, assistant commander of the MSP Prince Frederick barrack, said it is possible that the wet roads contributed to the accident. He said he did not know if speed was a factor. Paton said he believes Jones Alu was wearing her seat belt at the time of the accident.