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Bishop Heather Cook faces charge over fatal hit-and-run

Heather Cook Image copyright Episcopal Diocese of Maryland
Image caption Heather Cook was ordained in the Maryland diocese almost 30 years ago

Maryland's first female Episcopalian bishop will face charges over a hit-and-run crash that killed a cyclist in Baltimore, prosecutors say.

Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook will be arrested for vehicular manslaughter over the death of Tom Palermo, 41.

Prosecutor Marilyn Mosby said Ms Cook's blood-alcohol level was at .22 after the crash, almost triple the state's legal limit for driving.

Ms Cook, who was elected bishop in September, has been put on leave.

The Maryland diocese previously said Ms Cook initially left the scene but returned 20 minutes later "to take responsibility for her actions".

The national Episcopal Church has also opened a separate investigation to determine whether Cook violated church law.

Bishop Cook became an ordained priest in 1987 and served in Virginia, New York and Pennsylvania before returning to the state.

In a statement, the Palermo family said they "support the prosecutor's efforts to hold Bishop Heather Cook accountable for her actions to the fullest extent of the law".

Image copyright AP
Image caption Flowers and messages were left near the site of the crash

A small makeshift memorial was created near the road where Mr Palermo was killed on 27 December. The road had a designated bike lane.

An eyewitness said he found Mr Palermo on the road and while other witnesses called emergency services he went looking for the vehicle and found it at a light.

"The windshield was completely smashed in, with a hole on the passenger side, and from the damage of the car, there was no doubt in my mind that was the car," Moncure Lyon said.

"I asked the lady who was driving 'Are you all right?' Then the light turned green, she said 'Yes,' and she left."

Ms Cook had previously pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in 2010 and was sentenced to a fine and probation, according to court records.

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