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Denfeld basketball coach recounts trip with impaired bus driver

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:21 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2022 at 6:41 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - The Duluth Denfeld head boys’ basketball coach is speaking out after a charter bus driver jeopardized his team’s safety.

Shawn Zelazny of Sturgeon Lake has been charged with three DWIs.

The 48-year-old is accused of drinking while driving the Duluth Denfeld Boys’ basketball team to and from a tournament in Hibbing last Thursday.

According to Coach Phill Homere, they didn’t know Zelazny was intoxicated before boarding the bus, but as the trip progressed, they saw red flags.

“He was doing alright until I was like, ‘you’re coming up on a turn in 300 feet. You’re gonna make this right, and he said ‘alright,’ and so when we got close, I said, ‘you’re making this right you have to slow down, and he just kept going,” said Homere.

Missing turns, hitting stop signs, and saying strange things all prompted Homere and his staff to reach out for help.

“Okay, something just isn’t right here and at that point contacted one of the parents that were at the game and was like, ‘can you guys call 911,” said Homere.

They eventually had Zelazny pull over the bus in Cotton, MN, before law enforcement arrived on the scene.

According to Homere, Zelazny admitted to drinking vodka that day.

A field sobriety test showed his BAC .218.

There was also a vodka bottle found in his bag.

“That is the time we looked at each other and thought, ‘man, this really could have been worse than it was,” said Homere.

A potentially tragic situation was avoided thanks to the quick actions of coaches and parents.

Superintendent of Duluth Schools John Magas issued a statement Tuesday saying,

“We are grateful for the quick actions of our coaching staff, parents, and law enforcement in resolving the situation Friday night related to the charter bus travel of the Denfeld High School Varsity Basketball Team. Our leadership team, contracting partners, along with our coaching staff are taking immediate steps to ensure this kind of serious incident does not happen again.”

John Magas, Superintendent of Duluth Schools

We reached out to Zelazny’s employer, LCS Coaches, for comment on this situation.

In a statement by LCS Vice President Jack Lane said they are grateful no one was hurt in the incident and Zelazny is no longer an employee at LCS.

“We are grateful for the individuals who took swift action in alerting law enforcement and emergency personnel. More importantly, we are also very grateful no one was harmed by the driver’s incomprehensible actions as passenger safety is paramount and he is no longer employed by LCS Coaches. LCS had no knowledge something like this may occur and we follow all DOT requirements and testing.”

Jack Lane. Vice President of LCS Coaches

St. Louis County Attorney’s Office does not plan to file any other charges against Zelazny.

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