The first female bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland admitted Monday that she was responsible for a shocking hit-and-run accident that killed a bicyclist in Baltimore on Saturday afternoon.

A statement from a Maryland Diocese spokesperson relayed that Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook, 58, had taken responsibility for an accident which has left the Baltimore bicycling community shaken.

Bicyclists Call Tragedy Incomprehensible

Thomas Palermo, a 41-year-old bicycling advocate, was riding along one of Baltimore’s most bike-friendly roads when he was struck from behind at around 2:37 p.m. The accident occurred along Roland Avenue near the Bellemore Road intersection. The bishop fled the scene of the accident. Palermo was still alive after he was struck, but died from his injuries at Sinai Hospital.

A passerby, who happened to be a reporter, saw the badly injured Palermo and stopped to call 911. The accident shocked and enraged the bicycling community, and cyclists are having a hard time understanding the cause of the accident. That stretch of Roland Avenue is wide, separated by a grassy median. There are two traffic lanes and a bike lane in each direction, and the road is free from construction or other obstacles. There was no obvious or identifiable reason as to why Bishop Cook struck Palermo.

A memorial has sprung up near the spot where Palermo was struck and killed. Bicyclists are blaming general driver behavior, and stressed the importance of drivers giving cyclists three feet of space at all times.

Bishops Behavior Questionable

The reporter who happened upon the scene found Palermo laying bleeding on the road, alone. Cyclists in the area immediately began searching for the vehicle which hit him, and eventually tracked down Bishop Cooks damaged car.

The bishop returned to the scene approximately 20 minutes after the accident at the urging of cyclists. According to witnesses, the bishops Subaru had suffered massive damage, and the windshield was shattered, suggesting that the bishop had to have known that she struck someone.

It is not yet known if Bishop Cook will face any criminal charges for striking Palermo. She has retained an attorney, and is on administrative leave from her position with the Diocese. A statement from her attorney expressed sorrow for the accident, asked for prayers on behalf of Palermo, his family, and Bishop Cook.

In 2010, Bishop Cook was charged with DUI after being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and possessing marijuana. She received probation, and it is not known if drugs or alcohol played a role in this accident.

For now, the Baltimore bicycling community is coming together to remember Palermo as a friend, businessman, father, and cycling enthusiast. Many cyclists have left flowers, signs, and other memorabilia at the site of the accident, and hope that justice will be served for Palermo’s family.

Bicyclists have a right to use the road, and drivers need to remember to share space and leave sufficient room to safely pass. The attorneys at Goldberg Finnegan express their deepest sympathies to the family of Mr. Palermo, and remind all drivers to be aware of their surroundings at all times.

If you or your loved one has been injured while bicycling, a Silver Spring personal injury lawyer from Goldberg Finnegan can help you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. Call (888) 213-8140 or use our case evaluation form to have your accident claim reviewed for free today.