Heather Cook, Maryland’s first woman bishop in the Episcopal Church had a recent fall from grace. She was charged with her 2nd DUI and vehicular manslaughter. Tom Palermo, age 41 was the victim after Bishop Cook’s car hit him while on his bicycle. Bishop Cook reportedly left the scene and returned a short time later. A tragic story, but all too common on our roads today.
Cook’s father was also an ordained priest in the Church of England and an alcoholic. Her father, Rev. Halsley Cook once preached in a sermon that “alcohol is a rampant epidemic in our society” and “a fatal disease not only of the body, but mind and spirit.”
This story clearly illuminates many elements:
- the multigenerational aspects of addiction,
- the risks one takes continuing to consume alcohol after a DUI, and
- addiction does not discriminate.
Many professionals, as well as women and men from all walks of life and socioeconomic status, are addicts and alcoholics. It is newsworthy when a religious leader is involved in such a situation, but it occurs all too often.
It is clearly an addictive process that convinced Bishop Cook that she can drink after her first DUI (with a BAC of .27 = more than 3x the allowable level of .08). According to Mothers Against Drink Driving (MADD), 50-75% of all people who receive a DUI continue to drink alcohol after the DUI. The likelihood a person will have a 2nd DUI if they continue to drink after their first DUI is 50%. If you continue to drink after your second DUI, then those odds go up to 75%. The first DUI should be a wake up call, literally helping you to be less sleepy about your unhealthy relationship to alcohol.
Sad that innocent people, like Tom Palerma, lose their lives in the process. We need to assertively and lovingly confront anyone who may be in a similar position as Bishop Cook. The Church, as an organization, can often sweep these issues under the proverbial carpet! I hope this story and its sad chain of events can teach us about addiction and its influence in every segment of society.
Both Bishop Cook and Mr. Palermo’s family and survivors need our prayers.
If you, or a loved one is in need of treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, please call us today at 215-834-7979 for a free consultation or visit us at providencerec.staging.wpengine.com