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CLEAR LAKE | A second-grade Clear Creek Elementary teacher has submitted his resignation after being charged with leaving the scene of a single-vehicle crash in February.

Francis Joseph Lapointe, 28, of Clear Lake, was charged in magistrate court with misdemeanor failure to report an accident -- death or personal injury and a traffic violation for failure to maintain control. 

Court documents say Lapointe was driving a red 2009 Ford Explorer in the 200 block of South Third Street in Clear Lake when he lost control of the vehicle, slid off the road and struck a tree about 1:12 a.m. Feb. 11. 

Clear Lake Police Chief Pete Roth told the Globe Gazette Wednesday the cause of the crash is unknown.

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Clear Lake hit and run - updated

The Clear Lake Police Department says it has identified the driver involved in a hit-and-run crash on South Third Street Feb. 11. Francis LaPointe, a second-grade teacher at Clear Creek Elementary, has been charged in magistrate court. 

“The crash report does list snow on the ground,” Roth said, noting drugs and alcohol are not listed on the crash report. 

Lapointe sustained a "serious leg injury" in the crash, according to court documents. 

A Mercy Medical Center - North Iowa spokesperson said Lapointe was admitted to the hospital Feb. 11 and discharged Feb. 12. 

"After the collision the defendant left the scene before law enforcement arrived on scene," court documents said. 

Five days after the crash, Clear Lake police issued a news release asking for the public's help with the hit-and-run crash. Officials also said a silver car was seen leaving the area as an officer arrived. 

Police asked for help to identify the driver of the SUV for a welfare check and to speak with anybody in the silver car as potential witnesses to complete the crash investigation.

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Clear Lake hit and run 2

A silver car seen leaving the scene of a hit-and-run accident in Clear Lake Feb. 11, according to police. 

The silver car was “a vehicle that may have contained a witness to the crash," Roth said Wednesday. 

Court documents said that as of Feb. 20, Lapointe had not reported the accident to law enforcement, “as required.” The complaint/citations were not filed until Feb. 24.

Roth said the driver eventually contacted one of the investigating officers.

Though Roth said the license plate, VIN number and registration for the vehicle were present, investigators did not who was driving the vehicle “because the driver was not around at the time of the crash.”

The registered owner might not be the owner of the car or the driver, Roth said. 

Police said the case has been closed an no additional charges will be filed. 

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Francis Lapointe school photo

Lapointe 

Lapointe has pleaded not guilty and will face a non-jury trial for both charges April 18 in Cerro Gordo County Magistrate Court.

Per court documents, both sides will have to argue the applicability of State v. Tarbox, a 2007 Iowa Supreme Court decision.

The decision affirmed a district court ruling in which a trial was dismissed for a driver who left the scene after being involved in a single-vehicle crash. The man, who was hurt in the crash, was the only one in the vehicle. 

On March 20, Assistant County Attorney William J. Hoekstra filed a notice to the court saying he “believes trial in this matter will last longer than thirty minutes due to the number of witnesses the State intends to call for trial.”

Lapointe was released on his own recognizance March 1. His father, Joseph R. Lapointe, is representing him as his attorney.

According to Lapointe's staff biography on the school's website, this academic year marked his third year teaching second grade at Clear Creek.

He submitted his resignation letter April 1, which was approved by the Clear Lake School Board during its regular meeting Wednesday. The letter states his resignation is effective at the end of the current academic year. 

Lapointe graduated from Mason City High School in 2008 before attending NIACC and graduating from the University of Northern Iowa in 2013. 

“I am currently enrolled in UNI’s Principalship program and would like to become an elementary school principal someday," his biography said. 

Contact Courtney at 641-421-0534 or on Twitter @CourtneyFiorini.

 

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