Episcopal Bishop Fatally Hit Cyclist, Drove Off: Cops

She returned after other bikers tracked her down: reporter
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2014 11:44 AM CST
Episcopal Bishop Fatally Hit Cyclist, Drove Off: Cops
A bishop has been accused of hitting a cyclist, then driving away before returning.   (Shutterstock)

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland's No. 2 official was the driver in an accident that killed a cyclist in Baltimore on Saturday, the church says. Thomas Palermo, 41, died in the accident, and the driver at first left the scene, witnesses and police have said. But she came back and spoke to investigators, a detective told the Baltimore Sun this weekend. She returned after other cyclists sought out the car involved in the crash, a CBS reporter told the Sun; they reported a car with a broken windshield to police, the reporter—who called 911 upon finding Palermo—said. A Subaru with a "three-quarters shattered" windshield eventually arrived, he says, apparently driven by Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook, 58. Police say no charges have been filed, the Sun reports.

"Several news agencies 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," Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton wrote in an email to clergy yesterday that was provided to the Sun by a church rep. Cook, Sutton wrote, has been put on administrative leave "because the nature of the accident could result in criminal charges." Fellow cyclists have been visiting the spot of the collision in Roland Park, BaltimoreBrew reports; many were surprised that a crash could happen in an apparently safe, wide area with a bike lane. Locals have criticized Cook's reported departure: Palermo "was alive after it happened. (The driver) might have been able to help or call for help if she'd stayed on the scene," says one. (More Maryland stories.)

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