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Retired principal, 77, falls outside, dies of exposure

OAK PARK HEIGHTS - A 77-year-old man who apparently walked out of a senior living facility Sunday night in Oak Park Heights was found dead outside early Monday morning.

Thomas LeCloux, a retired principal of Oak-Land Junior High School in Lake Elmo, is believed to have fallen outside and died of exposure to frigid weather.

Oak Park Heights Police Chief Brian DeRosier said the man was living at an apartment at Boutwells Landing. Police have not identified the man, but statements from Boutwells Landing and the Oak-Land school said he was LeCloux.

DeRosier said staff at the facility went to check on the man about 11 p.m. Sunday to help him get ready for bed, but they didn’t find him in his apartment.

The facility told police that wasn’t unusual because the man sometimes visited other people in the facility.

“He generally would take care of himself,” DeRosier said.

But staffers called police at 1:10 a.m. Monday when they still couldn’t find him. A search was launched involving about 10 police officers and 10 to 15 firefighters, including personnel from Bayport, Stillwater and Washington County. A Minnesota State Patrol helicopter also joined in the search.

DeRosier said the man’s body was found lying on a relatively untraveled walking path between a Walmart store and a Lowe’s store about a half mile north of the senior living facility.