Maryland’s first female Episcopalian bishop initially left the scene after fatally running over cyclist
Bishop Heather Cook was behind the wheel of her Subaru SUV when she struck Tom Palermo on December 27. She initially fled the scene, but returned 20 minutes later as police were beginning their investigation.
Her identity was made public not by the police, however, but by the Bishop of Maryland, Eugene Taylor Sutton, in an email to the clergy.
“I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon, Dec. 27, that resulted in the death of a bicyclist,” he wrote, adding that while “[s]everal news organizations have reported this as a ‘hit and run.’ Bishop Cook did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.”
The local cycling group Bikemore issued a statement urging police ” to hold the driver who killed Tom accountable for her actions.”
A Baltimore police spokesman said that the department has not yet decided whether it will press charges against her.
In 2010, Bishop Cook was arrested after she was found driving with a blood-alcohol level of .27 — three times the legal limit — in a vehicle with bottles of whiskey and wine, as well as a marijuana pipe. The drug charges against her were dropped in 2012, and she received a “probation without judgement” on the driving under the influence charge.