An Orono man will spend more than seven years in jail for a car crash that killed two men on July 24, 2021.

On Thursday, May 5, James Blue, 52, was sentenced by Hennepin County judge Regina Chu to a 90-month jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more in connection to the crash that killed 20-year-old Mack Motzko and 24-year-old Sam Schuneman.

Blue was originally charged with two counts of third-degree murder and four counts of criminal vehicular homicide. On Tuesday, April 5, Blue entered a guilty plea to the criminal vehicular homicide charges.

On the night July 24, 2021, Orono Police responded to multiple 911 calls regarding a single car crash on the 3100 block of North Shore Drive in Orono. When they arrived, police found a 2017 Bentley Flying Spur in a wooded area adjacent to North Shore Drive. The car suffered extensive damage, having uprooted a tree that was still on top of it when police arrived. Two adult males, Motzko and Schuneman, were still in seat belts, trapped inside the car, with Schuneman in the front passenger seat and Motzko in the backseat. Schuneman, 24, and Motzko, 20, would die in the crash. Motzko was the son of University of Minnesota men’s hockey coach Bob Motzko.

The lab results from Blue, the driver of the vehicle, indicated a blood alcohol content of .175, more than twice the legal limit. Data obtained from the vehicle’s airbag module indicated a speed of 94 - 99 mph just seconds prior to the crash.

“You’ve taken responsibility for your actions, and I have no doubt that you have extreme remorse for having killed these two young men,” Chu said to Blue during the sentencing hearing. “But your actions resulted in their death.”

Blue’s attorney Frederic Bruno asked Chu to consider a nine-month credit for ‘time served,’ or a custody credit, to account for the time Blue spent hospitalized, in jail, in treatment and on house arrest. Chu denied that request.

At the plea hearing in April, Blue admitted that he did shots of tequila and took a THC gummy before speeding out of his driveway and crashing into a grove of trees, killing Motzko and Schuneman.

“The crash itself, it’s my fault,” Blue told Chu. “I made the decision to get into the vehicle. I ended up in the hospital and two men died.”

“I never imagined for a moment that I was capable of doing something with such awful consequences. It was completely out of character for me. And I understand that I must be punished,” Blue said. “I would give up my life today to bring Sam and Mack back.”

The Motzko and Schuneman’s families released the following statement after Blue’s sentencing:

“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.”

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