RONALD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman was arraigned Monday in connection to a crash that killed two cyclists participating in a Make-A-Wish bicycle ride and injured three.
The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office has identified the two cyclists who died as Edward Erickson, a 48-year-old from Ann Arbor, and Michael Salhaney, a 57-year-old from Bloomfield Hills.
Mandy Marie Benn, a 42-year-old from Ionia, has been charged with two counts of operating while intoxicated causing death/operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, a 15-year felony; one count of operating while intoxicated/operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance, a 93-day misdemeanor; second offence notice operating while intoxicated, a 1-year misdemeanor, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Office said in a release.
Benn, who appeared visibly distraught as she was arraigned by video from the Ionia County jail, has pleaded not guilty.
The crash happened on Saturday around 11:15 a.m. in the 3000 block of Stage Road in Ronald Township. Benn was driving northbound behind a UPS truck, the sheriff’s office said. It said when the UPS truck started slowing down to stop, Benn passed it in the southbound lane, driving into the path of the bicyclists.
Deputies say it appears Benn did not see the bicyclists before she hit them. They say it happened on a straight roadway with nothing obstructing the line of vision.
During the arraignment on Monday, the prosecutor said she appeared to be under the influence of prescription drugs at the time of the crash and did not have any alcohol in her system.
The cyclists were participating in bicycle tour with Make-A-Wish, called Wish-A-Mile.
The sheriff’s office on Monday said one of the cyclists who was injured is in serious but stable condition and is expected to recover, while the other two have been treated and released.
Another cyclist participating in the fundraiser, David Contorer, said he was five miles behind those involved in the crash.
“What I saw and heard were loud sirens and Michigan State Police Troopers hauling by us at a very fast clip and we knew something was wrong,” Contorer said.
News of what happened sent shockwaves through the group of cyclists.
“All our heartbeats were going very fast,” Contorer said. “It was very scary, because you’re vulnerable when you’re on a bike and of course we knew someone from our group had been fatally injured and others seriously injured.”
Benn is being held on a $1,000,000 cash/surety bond. Her probably cause conference has been scheduled for Aug. 8 and her preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 15.
— News 8’s Jacqueline Francis contributed to this report.