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Victims remembered as driver charged with hitting & killing 2 during Make-a-Wish bike ride

Mandy Marie Benn, 42, was arraigned on several charges related to the crash Monday afternoon
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Posted at 3:40 PM, Aug 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-02 02:25:19-04

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — The woman who deputies say hit and killed two people and injured three others when her SUV crashed into a group of cyclists Saturday morning was arraigned on multiple charges Monday afternoon.

42-year-old Mandy Marie Benn is facing several charges related to the deadly crash, including operating a vehicle while under the influence causing death.

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Prosecutors say Benn was not drunk, but told investigators on scene she had prescriptions for Adderall and Suboxone. They also allegedly found prescription benzodiazepine bottles in her vehicle as well.

Adderall is a stimulant typically prescribed for ADHD. Suboxone is a drug typically given to people going through opiate withdrawal, while benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to treat anxiety.

Benn is facing two counts of operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance causing death, which is a 15-year felony charge.

Woman Charged in Deadly Make-a-Wish Bike Crash

Ionia County Prosecutor Kyle Butler spoke in court Monday about how Benn seemed unable to understand the gravity of the situation she was in, saying, “she did make a statement saying quote 'that almost looks real', when referring to the crime scene, which the detective did find to be notable.”

She is also charged with a misdemeanor count of operating while intoxicated, and a second offense notice for operating while intoxicated.

Her bond was set at $1,000,000 cash/surety.

Butler said that Benn was in a car crash back in 2017 where she was also on a number of pills and allegedly demonstrated a similar demeanor on scene.

The cyclists she is accused of hitting were participating in the Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour, a three-day endurance ride covering most of the state of Michigan.

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Police investigate the scene of a vehicle hitting several bikes (right) in Ionia County on Saturday.

The rest of the ride was canceled after Saturday's fatal crash.

Deputies responded to Stage Road, north of East Nickle Plate Road around 11:15 a.m. Saturday.

The Ionia County Sheriff's Office says Benn's SUV crossed the center line, into oncoming traffic, while trying to pass another vehicle on Stage Road.

Ionia Co Bicyclists Hit by SUV

The sheriff's office told FOX 17 Saturday that one male cyclist was pronounced dead at the scene and another was flown to the hospital but died from his injuries.

One of the men killed was 57-year-old attorney Michael Salhaney, who was riding as a team captain in the Make-a-Wish tour.

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57-year-old Michael Salhaney of Bloomfield Hills

Bruce Truex, firm president and co-managing partner at Secrest Wardle where Salhaney worked, told FOX 17 Monday, "Michael was a well-respected and skilled attorney representing the firm’s Municipal clients. His affable good nature made him a beloved member of the Secrest Wardle family."

"Words cannot express how greatly he will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers remain with Mike’s family, friends, and those whose lives he touched."

Accused drunken driver crashes into Make-A-Wish cyclists, killing West Bloomfield man

Nate Edmonds, a co-managing partner at Secrest Wardle, also shared their memories about Salhaney with FOX 17 Monday, saying, "Mike was a great attorney and awesome co-worker. He will be missed on a daily basis. I lost a great attorney/ co-worker, but others lost a father, husband, friend, and more."

"Life is so precious and can be gone in a second. He was part of our firm family and words can't express the sadness and loss. The world lost a light on Saturday. Good people shouldn’t die so young, but it happens and you can’t explain why... That plain and simple sucks (not a great legal term, but I think most can understand that rather than some high-brow thing."

The other man killed has been identified as 48-year-old Edward Erickson of Ann Arbor. We are still working to learn more about him.

The other three cyclists who were hit were taken to hospitals with severe injuries.

As of Monday afternoon, two of those injured victims had been treated and released, while one remains in serious but stable condition. The Sheriff's office says they are expected to recover.

Their names have not yet been released.

Benn was arrested for operating while intoxicated causing death and taken to jail after receiving medical treatment.

Make-A-Wish Michigan issued the following statement Saturday following the crash:

"We are deeply saddened to share that a tragic accident occurred in Ionia County today involving cyclists participating in the Make-A-Wish® Michigan 35th Annual Wish-A-Mile® (WAM) Bicycle Tour. Two riders were killed, and three were injured after being struck by a car. Our staff and the entire Make-A-Wish family are heartbroken and offer our deepest sympathy for the riders involved, their loved ones, and all members of the WAM community during this difficult time.

We are thankful to the first responders who arrived immediately to save lives. We are supporting our riders, staff, and volunteers with grief counseling and assisting with the law enforcement investigation.  The third day of our WAM 300 as well as our one-day WAM 50 and WAM Jr. scheduled for Sunday, July 31 have been canceled out of respect for the family."

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