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Episcopal bishop accused of DUI manslaughter in auto accident

A bishop from the Maryland Episcopal Church has been charged with DUI, manslaughter and fleeing the scene of a fatal accident after being involved in a bicycle versus car crash in Baltimore. The accident happened during the afternoon on Dec. 27. The bishop — who is the first female Episcopal bishop in Maryland and the state’s second ranked clergy member — turned herself in last Friday.

According to authorities, the 58-year-old bishop was driving a 2001 Subaru when the collision occurred. Police say that her vehicle veered out of its appropriate lane and hit a male bicyclist, who was traveling in the bike lane. The woman’s vehicle struck the bicyclist from the rear, sending his body into the woman’s windshield. The catastrophic accident ended in the bicyclist’s death. Tragically, the man was also a father and will leave behind two children.

After the crash, the bishop left the scene of the incident for approximately 30 minutes, but she eventually returned, where she met with police. Authorities administered a breathalyzer test that showed the woman had a blood alcohol content of 0.22 percent, which is almost three times the legal limit in Maryland.

One of the more distressing elements of this case is the fact that this is not the bishop’s first DUI arrest. She was accused of drunk driving in Maryland in 2010, prior to becoming a bishop. In the previous arrest, officers found her driving her car late at night on just three tires. Her shirt was covered in vomit, and she was so intoxicated that she could not complete a sobriety test.

Maryland drivers accused of DUI manslaughter tend to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In cases where a previous DUI matter is on the driver’s record, it could serve to increase the severity of punishments and/or the length of jail time if he driver is ultimately convicted. A DUI manslaughter conviction would also serve to bolster any wrongful death claims that family members choose to bring against the driver in civil court.

Source: The Washington Post, “Md. Episcopal bishop faces manslaughter, DUI charges in death of bicyclist” Michelle Boorstein and Annys Shin, Jan. 09, 2015