Bishop Cook & the death of Tom Palermo – an overview

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The death of Tom Palermo from injuries sustained in car-on-bike collision has generated a great deal of ink (both virtual and the black kind) as well as much invective and recrimination directed at Heather Cook (Suffragan Bishop, Diocese of Maryland) who was driving the car involved.  Since the accident, very little new information concerning the accident has been released.

 

What we know:

Tom Palermo was riding a bicycle on Saturday afternoon in suburban Baltimore on a street with marked bike lanes and was involved in a collision with an automobile driven by Heather Cook.

Palermo was not killed at the scene but was alive when police responded and was taken to the hospital where he died from injuries sustained in the collision.

Cook did not stop at the time of the accident, but left the scene only to return later (how much later varies in different reports).  Her car sustained a great deal of damage; seemingly sufficient that the driver would be aware of the collision.

 

Cook has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocesan Bishop, Eugene Taylor Sutton.

 

The police have not yet filed charges against Cook, nor released any information regarding the cause of the accident or whether or not alcohol or any other substance was a factor.  There has been a great deal of conjecture about the bishop’s condition at the time of the accident (no doubt due to a DUI she received in 2010).  Again, the police have not released any information regarding alcohol or other substances that may have affected her ability to drive at the time of the accident.

 

What’s Next?

We here at the Café are following this story and hope to have more updates as they are known, but we urge our readers to refrain from making judgments based on unknowns.  That she left the scene of the accident is a serious charge; a felony in Maryland, whether she was responsible for the collision or not, whether she was intoxicated or not, or distracted in some other way that resulted in the death of Tom Palermo.

 

We do urge our readers, who feel moved to be helpful, to make a donation to the fund established to help the Palermo family.

 

The accident has generated lots of commentary, not only on the accident itself, but on other issues arising from it, such as how to determine fitness for office in the church, substance abuse among clergy, and the tension between forgiveness and accountability.  You can find some of these here:

 

http://anglicanfuture.blogspot.com/2015/01/when-terrible-terrifying-and-awful.html

http://crustyoldean.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-episcopal-churchs-malaysian-airline.html

http://telling-secrets.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-bishop-and-cyclist.html

http://theyoungcurmudgeonpriest.blogspot.com/2014/12/no-matter-what-it-may-preach-church.html

https://haligweorc.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/confusion-and-dismay/

 

posted by Jon White

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Michael Hartney
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Michael Hartney

"Cook has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocesan Bishop, Eugene Taylor Sutton."

Title IV.17 gives the authority of placing a Bishop under Administrative Leave to the Presiding Bishop, not the Bishop Diocesan. (IV.2.(c)). The House of Bishops specifically wrote this into the Canon.

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Randall Stewart
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Randall Stewart

Adding to what Monique said: Roland Park is in Baltimore City. It was one of our first "streetcar suburbs," built up in the 1890's, and has very wide streets that ultimate lead north to the Elkridge Estates Apts., in Baltimore County, where Cook is reported to have fled.

There is an Episcopal parish with a few blocks of the accident site.

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Randall Stewart
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Randall Stewart

The Sun is reporting that Diocesan clergy are meeting on Tuesday at the Claggett Retreat Center. Please keep them in your prayers.

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Tobias Haller
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Is it correct to say that "Cook did not stop at the time of the accident"? The diocesan release confirms that she left the scene, but does not state she did so immediately. I urge greater care in reporting on incidents to which one was not a witness.

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Michael Russell
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Michael Russell

After parsing the comment, spend a moment looking at the picture of the caved in windshield. A man's body filled the dish shaped crater. He went up over the hood and into the windshield and then off. The driver might have had to stop, but perhaps not. Did the driver make the 911 call? Had the driver rendered aid the victim might have lived. Then the driver left. Stopping or not staying makes little semantic difference to the victim. Stopping and staying might have made a real difference. It certainly would have epitomized "seeking and serving Christ" in another.

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Monique Ellison
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Monique Ellison

Another fact: the crash happened in the CITY of Baltimore, not in suburban Baltimore.

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