Simpson steps away from television

Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Jamie Simpson has resigned his position with WHIO-TV and plans to take a sabbatical from broadcasting, Simpson announced in a statement released today, Feb. 9 by WHIO.

Simpson has been on leave from the station since Nov. 13, when he was hospitalized and cited for misdemeanor OVI after a single-vehicle crash in Greene County. He pleaded guilty to OVI on Jan. 20 in Xenia Municipal Court. Simpson, 44, joined WHIO-TV in 1999, and became chief meteorologist in 2003.

“After much thought I’ve decided that this is a good time to focus on myself and on my family,” Simpson said in the WHIO release. “I’m grateful for the support of WHIO, and all of the Channel 7 viewers, for their outreach. I’m now looking forward to the next chapter in my life.”

In the Nov. 13 incident, Simpson’s car went through an intersection, crashed through a fence and struck a tree after veering off East Spring Valley Paintersville Road at U.S. 68 southeast of Xenia. No one else was in the car, and there were no other injuries. According to toxicology results listed in the crash report, Simpson’s blood-alcohol level was .228, nearly three times the legal limit of .08.

After Simpson pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor OVI charge Xenia Municipal Judge Michael Murry sentenced him to 180 days in jail, suspending all but three days on the condition Simpson has no similar violation in the next five years and that he completes a term of probation of two years. Simpson’s license was suspended for a year, starting from the date of the crash.

The judge gave Simpson credit for three days in jail because Simpson said he voluntarily went to a 30-day outpatient treatment facility and indicated he would continue follow-up treatment.

“It’s been an honor to work directly with Jamie for nearly a decade of his 15 years here at WHIO-TV,” said David Bennallack, senior managing director of content at Cox Media Group Ohio, parent company of WHIO-TV and of the Dayton Daily News. “While viewers saw his work on-air, I was privileged to see his dedication behind the scenes – working in the Storm Center overnights, on weekends or whenever threatening weather approached.”

WHIO has begun a nationwide search for Simpson’s replacement.

Asked about the possibility of Simpson returning to WHIO-TV following his sabbatical, Bennallack said, “I really can’t predict the future, but that’s not part of the current plan for Jamie or for WHIO.”

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