Bethel mayor dies after six days in a coma

Flags around the county were flown at half-staff this week in honor of Mayor David Simpson of Bethel, who died on July 15 of an aneurysm he suffered earlier in the week. Simpson, 51, was rushed to the hospital July 10 after collapsing. He spent several days in a coma before passing away.

Michael Shiverski, the administrator for Bethel, said that the sudden passing of Simpson has left the village administration shocked and devastated.

“I’ll put it this way, we see ourselves as a big family,” said Shiverski. “We may fight among ourselves and disagree and not always see eye to eye, but we’re still a family, we love each other and we’re there for each other. We’re just devastated by this.”

Shanna Seibert, the mayor’s daughter, said in an interview last week that her father most likely suffered from a genetic trait in their family that results in aneurysms. Simpsons father and grandfather both died from it, she said, and her father had suffered from severe headaches his entire life.

Simpson had served just over two years as mayor of Bethel. While he and council didn’t always agree, Shiverski said that his way of looking at things often resulted in gained perspective on various issues.

“I’ve been here for nine months, and in that time he has really gained my respect for his thought process and his attempts at making people look at things from a different perspective,” said Shiverski. “What he did for the police department and youth I’m very impressed with, and I want to keep that enthusiasm in his namesake. We were communicating well on some ideas to help the village prosper and grow.”

The day he fell ill, Simpson had been preparing to meet with a local pastor to discuss a new program concerning the youth of Bethel, one of his passions as mayor. That night, another pastor approached council concerning a project that he had discussed with Simpson concerning village beautification.

“There are a number of projects he started, one of which is The Clean and Beautiful Bethel,” said Shiverski. “Mayor Simpson was also working on an aggressive annexation process, and he had countless projects going with the police department.”

Now, the village will meet to decide on how to proceed with Simpson gone. According to councilman Kevin Perkins, the standard procedure is for the president pro-tempore of the council, in this case Perkins, to become mayor for the duration of the mayor’s term.

“We’ll have a special meeting to discuss that,” said Perkins. “Normally, the president pro tem would take the office of mayor and the council would have to vote on another president pro-tem and appoint another council member. I assume that’s the way that everything will happen, that’s pretty much protocol.”

During that meeting, council member Travis Dotson was selected as the new president pro tem. Resumes will be accepted for residents seeking to serve on the council to fill Perkins’ vacated seat.

Perkins said that the suddenness of the mayor’s passing came as a shock. Typically, the mayor was known for his good health and dedication to attending village business, said Perkins.

“I’m surprised to see something happen to him, he seemed in good health,” said Perkins. “There were a couple of times when he was out sick, but he really never missed a meeting. I’m really surprised.”

Last month, Perkins himself announced his plans to resign from the council due to a promotion that will move him out of state. However, Perkins said that there isn’t a set timeline yet, so it’s unclear how that will effect the process of appointing a new mayor.

“I don’t think it will have an effect right now, because I don’t know when I will be leaving,” said Perkins. “The normal protocol and mandates will take place.”