Driver in fatal Roland Park bicycle crash was bishop, Episcopal Diocese says

The driver in Saturday's fatal bicycle crash in Roland Park has been identified as a local Episcopal bishop.

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland on Sunday identified the driver in a fatal bicycle crash Saturday in North Roland Park as its second-ranking official, Bishop Suffragan Heather Elizabeth Cook.

Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton sent an email Sunday to clergy members with information about the crash. Police said 41-year-old Thomas Palermo was killed. Witnesses and a spokesman for the Police Department said the 58-year-old woman driving the car left the scene of the crash in the 5700 block of Roland Ave. shortly before returning.

Sutton's email was provided Sunday night to The Sun by diocese spokeswoman Sharon Tillman. Baltimore police said no charges have been filed and declined to comment on the driver's identity. Police referred questions to the office of the state's attorney, which could not immediately be reached.

Attorney David Irwin confirmed that he was representing Cook but said it was too soon for him to offer any comment on her behalf. "We're still evaluating," he said.

"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," Sutton wrote.

Sutton said Cook has been placed on administrative leave "because the nature of the accident could result in criminal charges."

"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," Sutton wrote. "Please pray for Mr. Palermo, his family and Bishop Cook during this most difficult time."

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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