Diocese: Bishop called colleague day of fatal crash

WASHINGTON — An Episcopal bishop called a colleague last month to tell him she thought she had hit a cyclist and was “in shock.”

In a statement released Tuesday, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland outlined the events after 58-year-old Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook reportedly hit a cyclist on Dec. 27. Cyclist Tom Palermo, 41, of Baltimore, was killed.

According to the diocese’s statement, at 2:59 p.m. Bishop Cook called the Rev. Scott Slater. She told him she thought she hit a cyclist and “was in shock.” Slater arrived at the scene and found her with police in a patrol car.

At 5:27 p.m., Slater got a call from the Baltimore City Police, who said he could pick up Cook.

Slater took the bishop to her apartment, made sure a friend would stay with her, prayed with her, then left.

Tuesday’s statement from the church explains that a disciplinary inquiry, referred to as a Title IV within the church, is underway. In the meantime, Cook remains on leave with pay and benefits.

The statement says Cook is “now in good hands and receiving care that will hopefully help her on her journey forward.”

“I consider her a friend as well as a colleague,” Slater says in the same statement from the church.

The statement goes on to say the church is urging congregations to designate a Sunday offering for the family of Palermo, the cyclist killed in the crash.

The fatal wreck is still under investigation by Baltimore City Police. No charges have been filed in the case.

The regional cycling community turned out for a ride to remember Palermo. And leaders with Bikemore, a Baltimore cycling advocacy group, say they are awaiting the results of the police investigation.

Initial reports from witnesses and church officials say Cook first left, then returned to the scene of the crash.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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