A high-ranking official in the Episcopal church has been charged with manslaughter in the death of cyclist Thomas Palermo. Prosecutors allege that Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was sending text messages at the time of the collision, and her breath alcohol level was .22 percent, three times the legal limit.
Sharon J. Tillman, a spokeswoman for the diocese, said officials were aware that Cook had been drinking before the crash and had been texting while driving, but police requested that they withhold certain information.
“We were cooperating with police in their investigation throughout,” she said.
Cook previously pleaded guilty to a 2010 drunken-driving charge on the Eastern Shore in which she registered a 0.27 percent blood-alcohol level. In that case, police said, Cook was stopped while driving on the shoulder of the road with a shredded tire. An empty bottle of liquor and marijuana were found in her vehicle, police said. An officer wrote in a police report that she was so intoxicated that he ended her field sobriety test because he feared she might hurt herself.
Texting and driving is no joke. It kills and injuries thousands every year in America. Never drive under the influence, and never text while driving. It isn’t worth the cost.