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October 29, 2013

TV meteorologist faces 3 charges after arrest

TERRE HAUTE — Kevin L. Orpurt, 58, a long-time WTHI-TV meteorologist, appeared Monday morning in front of Vigo Superior Court 5 Judge Michael Rader on charges of driving while intoxicated endangering a person and criminal recklessness with a vehicle, both class-A misdemeanors, and resisting law enforcement with a vehicle, a class-D felony.

Orpurt appeared in court with defense attorney Joseph Etling. He was ordered to return to court at 11 a.m. Thursday for the formal filing of charges. Rader on Monday found probable cause for Orpurt’s arrest.

The arrest was made Friday morning near the intersection of Poplar and Seventh streets. Detective Ferron Stevens of the Terre Haute Police Department said a dispatcher broadcast a report of an apparently intoxicated motorist in the area of 25th and Poplar streets. Additional reports of a motorist driving left of center came in from the area of 19th and 13th streets, he said, and a patrol officer located the westbound BMW sedan near Ninth and Poplar streets.

The car was reportedly traveling erratically and striking the curb while traveling at a slow rate of speed, Stevens stated. The police officer activated the lights and sirens on his vehicle, but the BMW continued through the intersections of Eighth and Seventh streets before another patrol car stopped in front of the BMW. Stevens reported that the BMW struck the other patrol car before the driver stopped his car.

Orpurt appeared disoriented at the scene and was unable to answer questions, Stevens said.

A portable breath test revealed no alcohol intoxication, the detective said, but Orpurt was transported to Union Hospital for urine and blood tests. The tests revealed controlled substances, including benzodiazapenes, in his blood, police said. It was not stated whether the medication was prescribed to Orpurt.

Orpurt was released from jail on his own recognizance on Friday night.

WTHI-TV General Manager Todd Weber declined to comment on Orpurt’s status at the television station, stating, “We do not comment on personnel matters.”

Orpurt served as WTHI’s chief meteorologist from 1985 through 2011.

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