Bishop Cook gave sermon using driving analogy

A Maryland Episcopal bishop identified as the motorist in Saturday's fatal bicycle accident in North Baltimore once gave a sermon in which she used a driving analogy to discuss responsibility.

In the videotaped sermon, "Be Prepared," Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook cautions the congregation that actions can have serious consequences.

"Things happen suddenly, and we're either prepared in the moment or we're not, and we face the consequences. We can't go back. We can't do it over," Cook says in the sermon, posted on YouTube in November. "If we routinely drive 55 in a 30-mile-an-hour zone, we won't be able to stop on a dime if driving conditions get dangerous or if an animal or, God forbid, a human being should step out in front of us," Cook says.

The video was posted by the All Saints' Episcopal Church of Reisterstown on its YouTube page and is dated Nov. 13.

Cook's attorney and the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland have identified Cook as the driver in a fatal bicycle accident Saturday in the 5700 block of Roland Ave. Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old father of two young children, died of his injuries.

Cook has not been charged in the incident, and Baltimore police said an investigation into how it happened was in its early stages.

Witnesses and a spokesman for the Police Department said the woman driving the car left the scene of the accident before returning.

In the video, Cook speaks of accountability.

"In real life, there are no instant replays. I think this is something of a hard message to give to you today," she says. "My perception is that we live in the midst of a culture that doesn't like to hold us accountable for consequences, that somehow everybody gets a free pass all the time. Well, we do in terms of God's love and forgiveness, but we don't in many of the things that happen, and it's up to us to be responsible."

Court records show Cook, 58, who has spent 20 years as an Episcopal priest, pleaded guilty in 2010 to driving under the influence of alcohol in Caroline County.

A spokeswoman for the diocese could not be reached for comment, while Cook's attorney said he had not seen the video and had no comment.

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