Thanks to some good old reporting and public information requests, the Baltimore Sun has dug up some more information on Bishop Heather Cook, the woman who has been charged with drunk driving and manslaughter in the death of beloved Baltimore cyclist Tom Palermo.
The Sun reports that back in 2010, when Cook was arrested for–you guessed it–drunk driving, Cook told the judge that the experience was “a major wake-up call.” At that time, Cook had a blood alcohol level of .27; wine, vodka, and marijuana were found on her car, and she had vomit on her shirt. She did so poorly on the field sobriety test that the cop who pulled her over was afraid she might hurt herself.
At her 2010 appearance before the court, she asked for–and received–leniency. The judge may have been impressed with Cook’s solid record of accomplishments. Her co-workers, students, and supervisors praised her dedication, talent, and supportive presence. Multiple people who worked closely with Cook told the Sun that they had absolutely no idea that she had any substance abuse issues whatsoever. (The apparent extreme split in Cook’s public and private life reminds me a little of Diane Schuler, the woman responsible for the 2009 Taconic Parkway accident.) Cook’s father, also a religious leader, had his own struggles with alcoholism in the 1970s, the Sun reports.
The Maryland diocese has asked Cook to resign; she has not yet responded to that request.
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