Mack Motzko, the 20-year-old son of Gophers men's hockey coach Bob Motzko, died of injuries suffered in a car crash Saturday night in Orono that also killed another passenger.
"We are devastated for Bob, Shelley, their family and all involved," athletic director Mark Coyle said in a statement released by the University of Minnesota on Sunday. "This is an unimaginable tragedy, and we will do everything we can to support those affected. We ask for privacy for the families as they mourn the loss of loved ones."
Sunday night, Bob Motzko posted a message on Twitter: "Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our Mack. No bigger heart or young man loved than this kid. Thanks to all who have reached out. He is my hero!"
Orono police shared few details of the crash, which is under investigation by the Minnesota State Patrol. Police said in a news release Sunday that "alcohol and speed appear to be contributing factors."
The Long Lake Fire Department and Orono police responded to single-vehicle crash at 11:23 p.m. Saturday near 3120 North Shore Drive. "The vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed and left the roadway. The vehicle struck several trees," the release said.
A 51-year-old man who was driving and Motzko, who was in the back seat, were taken to North Memorial Health Hospital, where Motzko later died. The driver suffered critical injuries. A 24-year-old man in the front passenger seat died at the scene. The identities of the other two men were not immediately released.
On Sunday afternoon, a neighbor placed a bouquet of hydrangeas in the branches of an uprooted, mangled tree that the car struck. She said law enforcement was on the scene, which is across the street from her home, until 4 a.m. Sunday.
Later that morning, family members of the victims arrived at the site, where officials had reconstructed the crash. Along the eastbound shoulder, yellow paint marked a stretch of about 21 feet from the point where the vehicle left the road until it crashed into the trees at the end of a driveway. Tire marks were shown on the grass, at one point crossing over a storm water manhole just a few feet from crash site.
Several people came to pay their respects at the area, which was covered in car debris and branches scattered in the ditch.
On Sunday, hockey teams and organizations across the region and country responded in shock and disbelief while sharing an outpouring of sympathies to the Motzko family.
"The National Collegiate Hockey Conference is incredibly heartbroken to learn of the tragic passing of Mack Motzko, son of former St. Cloud State head coach Bob Motzko," said the NCHC in a statement released on Twitter. "The Motzko family will always be part of the NCHC family. The Conference and member institutions send their condolences to Bob, Shelley, Ella, Beau and the entire Motzko family."
Motzko graduated from St. Cloud Cathedral High School in 2020 and spent the 2018-19 school year at Minnetonka after his father was hired as Gophers coach. He returned to Cathedral as a senior. In the 2020-21 season, he played 14 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede of the United States Hockey League, scoring two goals, and 25 games for the New Mexico Ice Wolves of the North American Hockey League, collecting four goals and four assists.
"The Stampede family is deeply saddened to learn the passing of former player Mack Motzko, son of former head coach Bob Motzko. The entire organization sends our deepest sympathies," said the Sioux Falls Stampede in a tweet. "Our thoughts & prayers go out to the Motzko family during a very difficult time."
The Cathedral hockey team also extended its sympathies to the Motzko family, offering "our deepest condolences and prayers to the Motzko family during this extremely difficult time. You are all loved by so many in our community."
"To a great captain, an outstanding player, a fantastic teammate, and most importantly an unbelievable person, we are going to miss you so much. You left an indelible mark on our program and with every person who interacted with your infectious personality. We love you Mack."
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