Man convicted of driving Denfeld basketball team while drunk – Reuters
DULUTH — A bus driver who was drunk while transporting the Denfeld boys’ basketball team in December will serve 60 days in jail.
Shawn Edward Zelazny, 48, of Sturgeon Lake, was placed on supervised probation for two years on Monday by Judge Jill Eichenwald, who set terms including one weekend detention per month.
In August, Zelazny pleaded Norgaard to second-degree impaired driving, saying he was unable to recall the circumstances of the offense but acknowledging that a prosecutor had enough evidence to secure a conviction.
“Mr. Zelazny’s actions endangered the life and safety of an entire basketball team,” County Attorney Kim Maki said in a statement. “Due to the seriousness of this conduct, the St. Louis County District Attorney’s Office has joined with Arrowhead Regional Corrections in requesting a heavier than usual sentence for similar charges.”
Zelazny was made redundant from his job at LCS Coaches based in Cloquet
on a round trip from Hibbing.
A criminal complaint says Zelazny hit a stop sign on his way to the Dec. 30 holiday tournament, drove the wrong way on a road on the return trip and missed several turns. Head coach Phill Homere told the News Tribune at the time that the driver also exhibited road rage towards other motorists and was confused to the point of asking coaches to help him navigate the way return.
After initially arguing with the coaching staff about his ability to drive, Zelazny was eventually convinced to pull over along US Highway 53 outside the El Toro Lounge in Cotton. The complaint notes that he admitted to a Minnesota State Patrol investigator that he “probably drank too much.”
Soldiers also reported that Zelazny struggled to remove his driver’s license from his wallet and failed several field sobriety tests. A preliminary breath test put his blood alcohol level at 0.218, well over the legal limit of 0.08 for driving.
Zelazny had previously been convicted of impaired driving in 2013.
Court documents say there were eight students – including several under the age of 16 – on the bus, along with the coaching staff.
Defense attorney Stephen Foertsch called for Zelazny to receive 90 days of electronic home surveillance in lieu of jail time, citing his client’s jail time, citing his client’s lack of a significant criminal history and acceptance of its responsibility.
“Mr. Zelazny requires ongoing therapy and treatment to address his mental health diagnoses and long history of alcohol addiction,” Foertsch told the court. “Mr. Zelazny recognizes the devastating impact his mental health and alcohol addiction issues have had on his life and the lives of his family, and the destruction his actions could have wreaked on the lives of others.
“His sobriety is a vital step in the process of atoning for his actions and ensuring they never happen again. He is currently working with a psychologist and is being medicated in a way that he says has stabilized his anxiety and helps him achieve his goal of staying sober.”