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Driver charged in deaths of 2 bicyclists on Make-A-Wish ride

Five men were hit Saturday in Michigan during a three-day endurance ride for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Mandy Benn was charged with operating while intoxicated causing death and other crimes.
/ Source: Associated Press

IONIA, Mich. — A woman was charged Monday with causing the deaths of two bicyclists who were struck by her vehicle while riding in a weekend charity event in western Michigan.

Five men were hit Saturday in Ionia County during a three-day endurance ride for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The two who died were identified as Edward Erickson, 48, of Ann Arbor, and Michael Salhaney, 57, of Bloomfield Hills.

Mandy Benn, 43, was charged with operating while intoxicated causing death and other crimes. It wasn’t immediately known if she has a lawyer yet.

Mandy Benn appears via video before a judge in Michigan.
Mandy Benn appears via video before a judge in Michigan. Benn has been charged with operating while intoxicated and other crimes following the deaths of two cyclists.WOOD

Prosecutor Kyle Butler said Benn was trying to pass a UPS truck on a rural road Saturday when she crossed the center line and hit the bicyclists.

She had no alcohol in her system but had slurred speech and couldn’t follow instructions, Butler said.

There’s evidence that she used prescription drugs, he said.

“People want to believe that bicyclists can protect themselves by wearing the right protective equipment, using the right lights or riding in the correct way,” said Matt Penniman of the League of Michigan Bicyclists. “None of those were sufficient to protect these riders, and blaming victims is never appropriate.”

The Ionia County Sheriff’s Office on Monday said one of the three injured cyclists was in serious but stable condition, according to NBC affiliate WOOD of Grand Rapids. The other two were treated and released.