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Bishop charged in fatal hit-and-run steps aside

Church officials plan to name interim bishop

SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. - A Wisconsin bishop charged in a hit-and-run accident that killed a jogger in early April is stepping aside.

The South-Central Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America said its executive committee agreed with Bishop Bruce Burnside that Burnside is unable to fulfill his responsibilities.

Burnside is accused of driving drunk when he allegedly struck and killed 52-year-old Maureen Mengelt in Sun Prairie. Sun Prairie police said Burnside's blood alcohol level was .128 at the time of the arrest.

Burnside's term as bishop ends June 30. He was up for re-election in May. Church officials plan to name an interim bishop as soon as possible. The synod council recommended the election be postponed until later in the year.

The synod's acting bishop, Rev. Blake Rohrer, said church rules allow an interim bishop to begin without the formal resignation of the elected bishop. The synod oversees 145 congregations in south-central Wisconsin.

Burnside has been charged with felony homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and felony hit-and-run causing death. He is at an in-patient treatment center awaiting further court proceedings.

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