A former Boscobel pastor faces tentative homicide charges after hitting a pedestrian while allegedly driving drunk in Sun Prairie Sunday afternoon.
Bruce H. Burnside, 59, of Madison, was arrested on tentative charges of homicide by intoxicated driving after he allegedly hit a female pedestrian at the northbound off ramp of Highway 151 at Windsor Street Sunday at 2:48 p.m. Mary Mengelt, 52, died of her injuries at St. Mary’s Emergency Center in Sun Prairie.
Burnside was pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Boscobel in the early 1990’s. He then served 14 years as pastor of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Monona and in 2007 was elected bishop for the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America—overseeing 145 congregations in 13 south-central counties.
According to Sun Prairie police, Mengelt was on a 5-mile run when she was hit crossing the northbound off-ramp. Police talked to Burnside a few minutes later at a nearby convenience store where he had driven. Burnside was tentatively charged with homicide by intoxicated driving and hit-and-run causing death. Police did not release his blood alcohol level.
At the time of the crash, Burnside was on his way to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie, where he was scheduled to preside over a 3 p.m. ceremony in which a theologically trained layperson was to become a ministry associate.
Burnside was well-regarded as a religious leader who addressed public issues in a measured way, from calling for a “season of civility” after labor protests at the state Capitol, to advocating for measures to address gun violence. He recently returned from a mission trip to India where he led a contingent of Madison youth on a trip to a Lutheran synod there.
Burnside lost his wife, Cynthia, to an aggressive form of cancer in November 2001.