First Female Bishop Of Maryland Causes Fatal Hit And Run Accident

| by Will Hagle

Heather Cook, the 58-year-old woman who was recently ordained as the first female Episcopal bishop of Maryland, crashed her vehicle into a bicyclist on Saturday before fleeing the scene of the accident. The bicyclist, 41-year-old Tom Palermo, died as a result of the crash.

Cook was reportedly driving a Subaru, which suffered major damage, including a shattered windshield, as a result of the collision with Palermo. 

According to the Daily Mail, Cook was exposed as the driver of the vehicle after the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland issued a letter describing the incident.

"Bishop Cook did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions," wrote the Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton in the letter.

The Diocese has since suspended Cook as the criminal investigation unfolds.

"There is an ongoing police investigation into the accident," wrote Sutton.

"I will meet shortly with the Standing Committee to discuss ways we can move forward," he added.

Police have not yet revealed details regarding Cook's level of sobriety at the time of the incident or whether she will face criminal charges, but the Bishop does have a previous DUI on her record. Cook was pulled over in Maryland's Caroline County in September of 2010, and was found to have a BAC of 0.27 after taking a breathalyzer test. A bottle of whiskey, a bottle of wine and a marijuana pipe were found in her vehicle at that time. 

Palermo was an active member of Baltimore's local cycling community as well as the owner of Palermo Bicycles, a one-man bicycle shop. The shop's website claims to offer "made-to-measure lugged steel framesets including road, fixed/single-speed, touring, and cyclocross as well as a variety of frame repair services."

Members of the bicycling community have been mourning and honoring Palermo by placing flowers near the scene of the accident. One community member, Lora Peters, criticized Cook for initially fleeing the scene of the accident.

"He was alive after it happened," Peters said to the Baltimore Brew. "She might have been able to help or call for help if she'd stayed on the scene."

Thus far, Cook has claimed that she was unaware that she hit Palermo when the impact occurred. 

Sources: The Daily Mail, The Baltimore Brew / Image Source: The Baltimore Sun