BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — It’s been more than ten years since a Monroe County Sheriff Deputy lost her life while on the job. Many still remember Sarah Haylett-Jones, but there’s now a push to make sure she’s never forgotten.
Haylett-Jones had been on the job for less than a year, when a driver along S.R. 45, on the western edge of Bloomington, forgot to put their vehicle in park in a lot. The vehicle rolled into a ditch and tow truck was called in to get it out.
According to Margie Clouse, Haylett-Jones was dispatched to the scene to help direct traffic while the tow truck was getting the vehicle out.
“It was a dark night,” Clouse said. “An inexperienced driver, who was a teenager at the time, just didn’t see her.”
Haylett Jones was struck by the driver on October 17, 2008. She passed away two days later from her injuries.
A cross and a memorial now sit where it all happened. It’s filled with flowers, a deputy’s hat, and her end of watch. Each year, friends and family return to the cross to release balloons, share stories and pray this incident will never repeat.
That’s what has pushed Clouse to work to get a section of the highway named in Haylett-Jones’ memory.
“I just want people to always pay attention,” said Clouse. “When you see red and blue or red lights flashing, just be extra cautious. Slow down, move to the other lane. Do whatever you can do to protect our public safety.”
State lawmakers from the Bloomington area have drafted a resolution, called “House Concurrent Resolution No. 17,” that would rename a portion of the road the “Sarah Irene Haylett-Jones Memorial Highway.”
Clouse has spoken with the lawmakers about the resolution, and they told her the announcement could come at the statehouse on Tuesday, April 2. That’s the day Haylett-Jones was born.
“I don’t want something like this to ever happen again because that was the worst night of my life.”
However, there has been some good to come from the tragic night.
Clouse was an EMT and was dispatched to the scene. She said she remembers feeling helpless. At the time, she wanted to be an EMT forever, but this night changed all that.
“I never wanted to feel like I couldn’t do something for someone, or I wasn’t trained or qualified,” Clouse said.
She would go on to become a paramedic. She did it for eight years. Then late last year, she graduated from nursing school and now works in the emergency room at a local hospital.
“I seriously look at everything I do as to help it can benefit Sarah’s memory,” said Clouse.
Denae Lewis was a deputy alongside Haylett-Jones. The two joined the force at the same time, and the two women, who were close in age, became friends.
“We got along very well, actually,” Lewis said. “Her husband was a firefighter. My husband is a police officer. We just had a lot in common.”
Lewis helps with the annual Sarah Jones Memorial 5K, held each summer during a weekend near the Fourth of July. It’s taken place for ten years, and money raised goes to fund scholarships to women who graduate from a Monroe County high school and want to pursue a career in public safety or criminal justice.
She estimated the event has helped give out $20,000 in scholarships so far.
Both women have become close to Haylett-Jones’ mother, who lives in Michigan, where Sarah was laid to rest.