Dexter man sentenced in hit-and-run

Published 8:50 am Tuesday, August 15, 2017


A Dexter man who fled the scene of an October vehicle crash that severely injured a man was sentenced in Mower County District Court on Monday to three years probation for felony criminal vehicular operation – substantial bodily harm.

Cole Christopher Clapp, 32, must perform 40 hours of community service, pay $135 in fees and fines and follow 32 conditions as part of his probation. Charges of felony criminal vehicular operation – great bodily harm and misdemeanor driving after suspension of his license, were dismissed as part of a plea agreement.

According to the court report, Minnesota State Patrol troopers and Mower County deputies responded at 11:07 p.m. on Oct. 19, to a crash on U.S. Highway 63 in Racine Township. A 2012 Ford Escape, which belonged to the victim, was lying in the east ditch and appeared to be split in half. Clapp’s vehicle, a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado, was burned and in the ditch north of the other vehicle. Clapp fled the scene before officers arrived.

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Based on road markings, it looked like Clapp’s vehicle was traveling north in the southbound lane when the vehicles collided. A witness driving a vehicle in front of the victim’s vehicle said Clapp’s pick-up passed him at a high rate of speed. When he looked in the rearview mirror, he saw flames coming from the crash. He turned around and assisted the victim until emergency responders arrived. The victim had to be carried by stretcher to the ambulance.

Efforts to find Clapp in the nearby cornfields and in Racine proved fruitless.

A woman called police the next day and told them Clapp had showed up at her Stewartville residence at 11:30 p.m. He told her he was in a crash and that he ran away. He told her there were “cops everywhere” and asked her to report his vehicle as stolen.

During an in-person interview with the woman, police learned Clapp had showed up to her house and told her he “rolled his truck” and he was “hurt bad.” He had a gash on the back of his head and a bloody arm. He later called her and told her he thought he had killed somebody in the crash.

Clapp’s wife, whom he was not living with at the time, told him to turn himself in when she learned he was involved in the crash.

The victim suffered lacerations to his head and face, a broken nose, spinal fractures, a bulged disc in his neck, a brain bleed, a traumatic brain injury, chipped teeth and damage to the nerves, muscle and tissue in his arms.

Clapp received credit for 72 days served.