ORONO, Minn. (WCCO) — Friends are honoring the legacy of two young men that died in a car crash Saturday night in Orono.
Twenty-year-old Mack Motzko and 24-year-old Sam Schuneman were riding in the car with 51-year-old James Blue. Police say Blue was speeding and went off North Shore Drive before he struck several trees just after 11 p.m. Schuneman died at the scene, while Motzko and Blue were transported to the hospital. Motzko later died of his injuries. Blue is currently in critical condition.READ MORE: More Federal Help Coming To Minnesota Hospitals, Walz Says
Investigators say unlike the victims, Blue wasn’t wearing a seat belt, and he was thrown from the vehicle. Police found him several feet from the car. According to a warrant, Blue admitted to officers that he had been drinking at a local bar. Witnesses believe the car may have been going as fast as 100 miles an hour before it veered off the road and crashed into several trees. Police have not confirmed how the two victims knew Blue. He is expected to face a number of criminal charges.
A memorial site with two crosses now stands at the scene of the crash. Friends could be seen comforting one another as they spoke quietly amongst themselves. Hunter Smith and Ben Zilmer graduated with Schuneman.
“It just doesn’t seem real. It’s still taking a while to set in,” Smith said. “When I moved to Rockford he was one of the first friends I made, cuz he knew I was a new kid, you know, brought me to meet [Zilmer] … became one of my closest friends.”
Zilmer said they were together just hours before Schuneman died, and the picture at his memorial was taken the same day.
“I went up and I grabbed his shoulder and I was like, ‘Hey, we’re heading out. See ya.’ He said, ‘Are you coming down to Arizona [where Schuneman was living]?’ ‘Yep.’ I walked out. I wish I would have given him a hug and told him I loved him,” Zilmer said.
Friends said Schuneman was dating Motzko’s sister. Ty Cousineau said his family is devastated over the news of Motzko’s death. He had recently played hockey for the New Mexico Ice Wolves of the North American Hockey League. Cousineau’s thoughts are with the Motzko family and the entire state of hockey.
“My younger brother played hockey with him. My father coached him. He was always the most respectful kid on the team,” Cousineau said. “I feel for them, I’m grieving for them. The whole state of hockey is grieving for them. So prayers out to the family and to the rest of the victims in the accident.”
Rashed Elbaba describes Schuneman as one of his best friends and a wonderful guy. He said Schuneman made everyone feel welcome.
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“He just had an ability to bring people together,” said Alex Orn of Anoka. “I can’t even count how many people I’ve met through Sam.”
Blake Neumann said Schuneman was the most fun guy ever.
“When you’re in a bad mood, he would turn it around. He had an infectious smile, teeth from ear to ear, never a dull moment,” said Neumann.
People also remembered Motzko for his smile. Emmett Keenan, the activities director for St. Cloud Cathedral, said it’s the one thing that will stick in his memories forever.
“Mack did everything 100%, he lived life 100% and played hockey 100%,” said Keenan.
Keenan has known Motzko since Motzko began attending high school. Motzko was known for his gifted talent in hockey, but Keenan said Motzko isn’t defined by hockey.
“Without a doubt, one of the most kind people I’ve ever met. Without a doubt one of the most faith-filled people that I’ve ever met, especially for someone at his age and certainly one of the most respectful people I had ever met,” said Keenan.
Mack Motzko’s dad, Bob Motzko, took to Twitter Sunday night to honor his son.
“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our Mack. No bigger heart or young man loved than this kid,” Bob Motzko said. “Thanks to all who have reached out. He is my hero!”MORE NEWS: Vikings Activate DT Dalvin Tomlinson From COVID-19 Reserve
Both Schuneman and Motzko were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. The driver was not.