Orono police say they are awaiting the results of a blood test from the Orono driver who crashed his car over the weekend and killed two passengers before presenting their case to prosecutors for potential felony charges.
James D. Blue, 51, drove off North Shore Drive on Saturday around 11:20 p.m. near his home, striking trees before being thrown from his 2017 Bentley.
The crash killed passengers Sam Schuneman, 24, and Mack Motzko, 20, authorities said. Blue was treated for injuries at North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale and later discharged.
Blue was then booked into the Hennepin County jail about 4:50 p.m. Wednesday on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide and released less than 4 ½ hours later without posting bail and with charges pending further investigation.
The County Attorney's Office said Thursday that neither Orono police nor the State Patrol has presented a case against Blue for consideration of charges.
Police Chief Correy Farniok said Thursday afternoon that "we are waiting to obtain State Patrol [crash] reconstruction, their report and toxicology results from the BCA" before sending a case to prosecutors.
"For a criminal vehicular homicide charge, we need the blood test," the chief said. "We are going for the felonies."
Messages were left Thursday with Blue seeking his response to the allegations. Farniok said Blue has secured legal representation, but the chief declined to identify the attorney.
Because of Blue's injuries, officers were unable to conduct field sobriety tests at the crash scene. A blood sample was taken from Blue at North Memorial about 1 a.m. Sunday, less than two hours after the crash, according to a search warrant affidavit. Tests results on that sample for alcohol or other substance impairment have yet to be disclosed.
Authorities have said high speeds and alcohol were factors in the crash that remains under investigation. Witnesses told authorities that Blue was driving "in excess of 100 mph in a posted 40 mph zone around a curve on a hill," according to a search warrant affidavit.
Blue told police at the scene of the crash that he was "guilty" and had been drinking at Maynard's Restaurant in Excelsior, the affidavit read.
The two deaths were among 16 on state roads since Saturday, the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) said Thursday. For the year, there have been 254 traffic fatalities so far in Minnesota, compared with 194 reported at this time last year.
Excessive speed, a suspected factor in Saturday's crash that killed Motzko and Schuneman, continues to be the largest contributing factor, according to the DPS. There have been 91 speed-related deaths in 2021, vs. 64 at this time in 2020, the agency said.
Motzko, of Orono, worked at the Minneapolis Golf Club while playing junior hockey for the Sioux Falls Stampede and the New Mexico Ice Wolves. He was an incoming recruit for the Penticton Vees, a junior hockey team in British Columbia.
Motzko was the son of Bob Motzko, head coach of the University of Minnesota men's hockey team.
Schuneman, who was living in Scottsdale, Ariz., is originally from Maple Grove and was recently home visiting family and friends.
Visitation for Schuneman is planned for Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Gearty-Delmore Funeral Chapel in Plymouth. His funeral is 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Wayzata's Church of the Holy Name of Jesus.
Motzko's service will be held Monday at 1 p.m. at the St. Cloud Cathedral High School gym.
The families released a statement that read, "We understand that there has been a development in the arrest of James Blue, which we believe is a positive step in obtaining justice for Mack and Sam. At this time we have no further comment but will consider media requests to speak with family members at an appropriate time after services are completed."
Star Tribune staff writer Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482