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Orono man sentenced in drunken driving crash that killed Motzko, Schuneman

James Blue pleads guilty to vehicular criminal homicide charges

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Friends left flowers, golf balls, hockey pucks, a poker chip and a photo at a roadside memorial for Mack Motzko and Sam Schuneman in Orono, Minn. on Monday, July 26, 2021. Jess Myers / The Rink Live

MINNEAPOLIS — A man has been ordered to spend 7 1/2 years in prison for driving drunk and crashing a car killing two people, including the son of Minnesota Gophers hockey coach Bob Motzko.

James Blue, 52, of Orono, Minnesota, accepted a plea deal that called for dropping two charges of third-degree murder. He was sentenced Thursday at a court hearing in Hennepin County before sheriff's deputies handcuffed Blue and took him into custody.

Mack Motzko, the son of Minnesota Gopher hockey coach Bob Motzko, and Sam Schuneman attended a party at Blue's home last July. They were passengers in the car driven by Blue.

Schuneman, 24, died at the scene of an accident on North Shore Drive in Orono, near Lake Minnetonka. Motzko, 20, was transported to North Memorial Medical Center, where he later died. The accident happened when a Bentley driven by Blue, 51, went off the road and struck a group of trees, according to police.

The station said that according to prosecutors and the police, Blue apologized at the scene while admitting to drinking alcohol before driving. He later admitted eating THC gummies as well.

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Before the the crash the car was traveling nearly 100 mph in an area near his home with posted speed limits of 35 and 45 mph, FOX 9 reported. Blue's blood alcohol content of 0.175% was more than twice Minnesota's legal limit of 0.08%, the Star Tribune newspaper reported.

The Department of Corrections would determine where Blue will serve prison time and that under state law, he must serve five years in prison before qualifying for supervised release, the station said.

"I just want to state how sorry I am ... I would never, ever forgive me if I were you," Blue said as he wiped away tears while addressing the families and court during Thursday's court hearing. "I do not deserve that and I understand that."

Lawyers for the Motzko and Schuneman family released a statement following the hearing.

“While today’s outcome cannot compare to the life sentence our two families have been given with the loss of our beloved sons, Mack and Sam, we hope it sends a clear and strong message that there are serious consequences for drunk driving and those that drive while impaired will be held accountable.

"We express our thanks to the Court for the professional and compassionate manner in which it has handled this horrific and senseless tragedy. We will be making no further statements at this time and ask for privacy as we continue to process and grieve the loss of Mack and Sam.”

FOX 9 said that a "sizable" civil agreement also is in place, but details were not immediately available.

The Rink Live visited the scene following the July 24 crash, and talked with people there.

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Friends said Schuneman was primarily a backyard pond hockey player. His father, Tom, is the chair of the Minnesota Special Hockey Board, which promotes the sport for people with special needs.

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Six friends of Sam Schuneman gathered at a memorial in Orono, Minn., at the site where Schuneman was killed, along with Mack Motzko, in a car accident on the night of Saturday, July 24, 2021. Jess Myers / Forum News Service

Schuneman, originally from the Twin Cities, had attended Minnesota State University in Mankato. He moved to the Phoenix area but returned to Minnesota often.

Schuneman was visiting friends last summer. Just prior to the crash, he had delayed returning to Phoenix two days so he could spend more time with friends. and had been visiting friends.

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Stickers that were available for those who attended the service for Mack Motzko at Cathedral High School on Aug. 2, 2021.
Mick Hatten/The Rink Live

Motzko had strong ties to the St. Cloud hockey community and played three seasons for St. Cloud Cathedral High School. His father previously had been head coach for the St. Cloud State men's team. Mack Motzko split time in junior hockey in South Dakota and New Mexico the previous season.

MORE COVERAGE OF DEADLY CRASH

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