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October 31, 2013

Vigo prosecutor drops charges against local TV weatherman

Valid prescription drugs cited in erratic driving

TERRE HAUTE — Pending criminal charges against a Wabash Valley television personality have been dismissed by the Vigo County Prosecutor’s Office.

Kevin L. Orpurt, 58, a long-time WTHI-TV meteorologist, will not be facing criminal charges at this time.

Orpurt was arrested Oct. 25 on preliminary 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 during a traffic stop near Seventh and Poplar streets. Police at the scene reported that Orpurt had been driving erratically and failed to stop his car when a police car’s lights and sirens were activated.

Orpurt was arraigned in Vigo Superior Court 5 on Monday, and was ordered to return to court Thursday for the filing of formal charges after Judge Michael Rader found probable cause for his arrest.

However, on Thursday, Vigo County Prosecutor Terry Modesitt said that because valid prescriptions have been presented for the controlled substances shown to be in Orpurt’s system at the time of his arrest, no criminal charges will be filed.

“A couple of medical records also show that he has had spells like this in the past, and that he’s been seeing a specialist,” Modesitt told the Tribune-Star on Thursday afternoon. “It might have been bad judgment on his part to drive, but nothing criminal.”

Modesitt also said that Orpurt has not been restricted from driving by his doctor while using the prescribed medication.

“If his doctor had said not to drive and he did, then it could be criminal recklessness,” Modesitt said.

The prosecutor also stated that if Orpurt did not have a valid prescription for the medication, he would be criminally charged.

A blood sample taken at the hospital following his arrest has also been submitted to the Indiana State Police Laboratory to determine the level of drugs in Orpurt’s system, and to see if any non-prescription medication or drugs are present, Modesitt said. If that testing determines that other non-prescribed drugs were present in his system, criminal prosecution could be resumed, he said.

Modesitt said there was no special treatment of Orpurt because he is a high-profile person in the community. In similar circumstances, criminal charges have been dropped for other individuals arrested in the same situation, he said.

A request for comment about the decision to drop the charges was made to Orpurt’s attorney Joseph Etling, who had no comment.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com.

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