Bishop Suffragan of Maryland tied to crash in Baltimore

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Bishop Heather Cook was placed on administrative leave after an automobile collision with a bicyclist who later died from his injuries.

The Rt. Rev. Heather Cook, Bishop Suffragan of  Maryland, has been identified as the driver involved in a deadly bicycle crash on Saturday in the Roland Park section of Baltimore. Thomas Palermo died from his injuries. Cook apparently left the scene of the accident and returned about twenty minutes later. The Bishop has been placed on administrative leave by Bishop Eugene Sutton.

WBAL-TV:

The bishop’s involvement in the crash was confirmed by the director of communication with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Authorities said Cook’s vehicle struck and killed a bicyclist around 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

Police officers were called to the 5700 block of Roland Avenue for a report of a car accident.

When officers arrived, they found 41-year-old Thomas Palermo who had been struck by a car.

The victim was transported to Sinai Hospital, where he later died from his injuries.

Investigators from the CRASH team were called to the scene.

Detectives believe a Subaru station wagon was traveling southbound in the 5700 block of Roland Avenue when the vehicle struck the bicyclist.

Police said Cook originally left the scene but later returned. She is being questioned by detectives.

There have been no word on whether she will face any charges.

The Baltimore Brew posted a letter from Bishop Eugene Sutton to the clergy of the Diocese:

From the Bishop’s Office
Dec. 28, 2014
Pastoral
To the Clergy of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Dear Colleagues,

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, Thomas Palermo, 41. Bishop Cook did not sustain any injuries. Together with the Diocese of Maryland, I express my deep sorrow over the death of the cyclist and offer my condolences to the victim’s family. Please pray for Mr. Palermo, his family and Bishop Cook during this most difficult time. Please do not contact Bishop Cook directly, but feel free to send written notes to the Diocesan Center.

There is an ongoing police investigation into the accident. Several 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.

Because the nature of the accident could result in criminal charges, I have placed Bishop Cook on administrative leave, effective immediately. I will meet shortly with the Standing Committee to discuss ways we can move forward. Also, I have decided to delay the beginning of my sabbatical to Jan. 24 to be pastorally present in this difficult time.

+ Eugene
The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland

The Brew reported the story and with it published an inquiry about a 2010 DUI arrest, but has so far received no confirmation as to that situation.

See also: WMAR-TV and Baltimore Sun

Posted by Andrew Gerns

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Tim Harwood
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Tim Harwood

Facts? I looked at the photos of her vehicle with a caved in passenger windshield and major damage to the hood. She obviously knew she hit someone. Unless of course she was inebriated; as she was once before when charged with DUI in 2010.

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Susan
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Susan

You seem awfully eager to convict a person before the facts are known in an ongoing investigation.

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Sharon
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Sharon

Am I alone in being appalled by Bp Taylor's letter? Calling it an "accident" before fault has been determined? And what is it other than hit and run when a motorist drives off leaving a person she hit dying in the road? Glad she returned and took responsibility but that doesn't mean it isn't hit and run.

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Stewart M.Hunt
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Stewart M.Hunt

Yet she didn't take responsibility ... she was FORCED to return to the scene and it was 45 minutes later ... not the 20 that might imply she circled around the block in a confused state. She fled to her gated community while being tracked by another bicyclist.

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Sharon
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Sharon

Wish the headline were stronger. "Bishop kills cyclist" would fit.

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JC Fisher
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JC Fisher

RIP, Thomas Palermo. Prayers ascending for this terrible situation...

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