Charges: Driver in Orono crash that killed 2 young men had been eating THC edibles, drinking | KSTP.com

Charges: Driver in Orono crash that killed 2 young men had been eating THC edibles, drinking

James Blue Photo: Hennepin County Jail. James Blue

Kyle Brown
Updated: August 30, 2021 03:24 PM
Created: August 09, 2021 04:06 PM

A man who was accused of getting in a drunken-driving crash last month in Orono that killed two passengers has been charged with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide, court records show.

According to a criminal complaint, 51-year-old James David Blue, of Orono, is charged with two counts each of criminal vehicular homicide with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more and criminal vehicular homicide while operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.

The complaint states that on the night of July 24, officers from the Orono Police Department responded to a crash near the 3100 block of North Shore Drive. Witnesses who called 911 said they saw a vehicle going 100 mph before it crashed. After arriving at the scene, officers found a 2017 Bentley Flying Spur in a wooded area off the road.

The car had crashed with such force that it uprooted a tree, which was lying on top of the Bentley, the complaint continues.

Two adult male passengers were still inside the car: a 24-year-old in the front, passenger seat, who was later identified as Sam Schuneman, was pronounced dead at the scene; a 20-year-old, identified as Mack Motzko, was trapped in the back seat on the driver's side and was struggling to breathe when officers arrived. Motzko was taken to the hospital, where he later died.

Motzko was the son of Gophers men's hockey coach Bob Motzko.

The driver, later identified as Blue, was found ejected from the car and was taken to the hospital with critical injuries.

The complaint continues to say a witness at the scene told officers Schuneman was her boyfriend and Motzko was her brother. She said they had all been at a small party at Blue's house and that Blue was showing his Bentley to the two victims. The witness said she'd warned them it was unsafe to drive.

Hospital staff found gummies containing THC — the intoxicating chemical in cannabis — as well as crushed white pills and five green capsules. Witnesses from the party told officers that Blue had been taking shots of liquor and had consumed THC edibles, according to the complaint.

Officers were granted a search warrant to draw Blue's blood and have toxicologists at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension analyze it, the complaint states. The BCA later determined Blue's blood-alcohol level was .175 — twice the legal limit.

Investigators also got a search warrant for the airbag control module from the suspect vehicle. A preliminary analysis of the device shows the Bentley was traveling between 94 and 99 mph at the time of the crash, according to the complaint. The roads in the area have speed limits between 35 and 45 mph.

Blue turned himself in on July 28 and was released from the Hennepin County Jail without bail the same day, pending a criminal complaint.

According to court records, a warrant for his arrest was issued on Monday. Officers from the Orono Police Department booked him back into jail at 7:36 p.m. Monday. His bail was set at $500,000. An updated record Tuesday indicated Blue had posted bond and was released from the Hennepin County jail at 2:30 a.m.


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