CENTREVILLE — The popular vice principal of Queen Anne’s County High School was killed in Centreville Thursday afternoon when his car was hit by a speeding SUV believed to have been stolen shortly before at a store near Chestertown.
John F. Andrews, 71, of 936 Dulin Clark Road in Centreville, was on Water Street crossing Liberty Street (state Route 213) when his 2005 Lincoln Town Car was struck on the driver’s side door by a 1999 GMC Yukon sport utility vehicle that allegedly ran a red light.
Bernard Sadusky, superintendent of Queen Anne’s County Public Schools, said Andrews had just driven to the Board of Education’s central office on Chesterfield Avenue to drop off a new teacher and was heading back to the high school when the crash occurred.
Andrews was pronounced dead at the scene.
His Lincoln came to a stop on the southeast corner of Liberty and Water streets, wedged between the Yukon, a utility pole, and the front porch and house at 101 Liberty St.
The SUV’s driver has not yet been identified by Maryland State Police. He was taken to Chester River Medical Center for treatment of minor injuries. He is in police custody, though no charges had been filed as of 8:30 p.m. Thursday.
Shortly after 3 p.m., troopers from the Centreville Barrack responded to a report of a motor vehicle theft at a store just south of Chestertown on Route 213. According to Barrack Commander Lt. Dwayne Boardman, the owner of the vehicle laid down her keys at the store and went to the bathroom, at which time a man grabbed them, ran out the door and stole her Yukon.
Boardman said witnesses saw the SUV being driven at “extremely high rates of speed” south down Route 213 toward Centreville.
Police believe the man had askedfor directions in Chestertown and how long it would take to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge before the theft occurred.
Boardman said police were strategically stationed throughout the area in an attempt to locate the vehicle. He said it was not a high speed pursuit.
About 3:20 p.m., Centreville Police Sgt. Marc Whaley was observing traffic entering Centreville in the area of Spaniard Neck Road when he saw the stolen Yukon pass.
Boardman said the preliminary investigation indicates that when the SUV’s driver saw the police car, he accelerated through town. Whaley made a U-turn to pursue the Yukon, but by the time he reached the scene, the accident had already occurred.
Police cordoned off the crash scene. Southbound traffic on Liberty Street was rerouted onto Broadway, then directed north on Commerce Street.
The Centreville police, Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, Maryland State Police, Goodwill Fire Company, Church Hill Volunteer Fire Company, Queenstown Volunteer Fire Company, Queen Anne’s County Emergency Medical Services and Maryland State Police Trooper 6 (a MedEvac helicopter) responded to the scene.
The incident is still under investigation by the state police crash team, investigator and patrol staff. Tfc. Michael Smith is heading the investigation.
Boardman said nothing could have been done to prevent the Yukon’s race through town.
Yet Andrews’ neighbor, Harry Demby, of 948 Dulin Clark Road, outside Centreville, said a road block should have been set up to divert traffic away from Centreville.
“Coming through Centreville at 80 mph, you’re going to hit somebody.… It just happened to be one of the nicest guys around here,” Demby said.
Jim Jennings, director of human resources for county schools, said Andrews was a graduate of North Carolina A&T College. He had been employed in Queen Anne’s County schools for 46 years. From 1961 to 1966, he was an agriculture teacher at Kennard High School, the county’s only black high school during the era of segregation.
After county schools were integrated in 1966, Andrews taught at Queen Anne’s County High School for five years. He had been a vice principal at the school since 1971.
Bystanders near the crash scene had good things to say about Andrews, a longtime teacher and vice principal in the county public school system.
Beverly Sudler, Bertie Turner and Elaine Wilson all complimented Andrews for his disciplinary style and treatment of kids.
“He did it with love,” said Turner.
Sudler, a 1966 graduate of Kennard High School in Centreville, knew Andrews when he was a teacher at the school. Her granddaughter knew Andrews as vice principal at Queen Anne’s County High School.
When Andrews disciplined a student, he explained why, said Sudler.
You knew you were in trouble, but he made you understand “why he had to do what he had to do,” Sudler said.
Elaine Wilson, a 1971 graduate of Queen Anne’s County High School, knew Andrews, and so did her son, a junior at the high school.
Sudler said Andrews was also a great singer. He was a member of the men’s choir at New Life Community United Methodist Church (formerly Charles Wesley Church) in Centreville.
Sitting on the front steps of her home, Liberty Street resident Tammi Sewell said you won’t hear anyone say a bad word about Andrews. Her son knew him at the high school, and she knew him when she was a student some 20 years ago.
Sewell said Andrews handled school suspensions as vice principal. Despite that job, Sewell said “everybody loved him. He was a nice man. He was a fair man.” Sewell said the community will miss Andrews.
Demby, who was taught by Andrews in eighth grade at Kennard High School in the early 1960s, lived just a few doors down from him.
“Very nice man … Actually never changed … (He) came here from North Carolina to teach in the old Kennard school system, and he never changed in all those years … A pillar of his community is what I’d describe him as,” Demby said.
School officials are in a state of shock over Andrews’ sudden death, Sadusky said.
“He’s just one of the finest individuals I’ve ever met,” Sadusky said.
“He was a great person,” Jennings said.