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Seven new charges added for Michigan driver accused in deadly Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour crash

The Ionia County driver is being held on a $1,000,000 cash/surety bond at the Ionia County Jail.

IONIA COUNTY, Mich. — The driver accused of hitting five bicyclists in Ionia County last month is facing new charges. 

Two people died, and three others were hurt on July 30 when police say an SUV crashed into a group of bicyclists taking part in a Make-A-Wish event.

The driver, identified as Mandy Marie Benn, 42, from Ionia, was charged in the deaths, and is now facing new charges related to the injuries she's accused of causing. 

Seven new charges were added on Aug. 12.

Benn is now facing two counts of Reckless Driving Causing Death, two counts of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Injury, two counts of Driving While Intoxicated Causing Serious Injury to a Body Function and one count of Reckless Driving.

The Ionia County Sheriff's Office says the incident happened around 11:15 a.m. on Stage Road in Ronald Township. Multiple emergency crews responded to the scene, including Michigan State Police and Aero Med. 

The investigation showed 5 cyclists had been hit by an SUV after it crossed the center line while attempting to pass a UPS truck that was slowing down for a stop. Police say that the driver appeared to have not known that the bicyclists were there when she passed the other vehicle.

One biker was pronounced dead at the scene. Another was flown by Aero Med to Spectrum Butterworth in Grand Rapids but was pronounced dead at the hospital. Three other victims suffered severe injuries.

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

The driver of the SUV was identified as Mandy Marie Benn, 42, from Ionia.

Credit: Ionia County Sheriff's Office
Mandy Marie Benn, 42, of Ionia.

Benn was initially arrested for two counts of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death after receiving medical treatment.

On Aug. 1, Benn was arraigned on two counts of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death/Operating a Vehicle While Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance (15-year felony), one count of Operating While Intoxicated/Operating a Vehicle While Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance (93-day misdemeanor) and a second offense notice of Operating while Intoxicated (1-year misdemeanor).

Benn is being held on a $1,000,000 cash/surety bond at the Ionia County Jail. 

Two of the other victims have been treated and released from the hospital and one victim remains in the hospital in serious but stable condition and is expected to recover.

The names of the other victims have not been released at this time.

All bikers were part of the Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour, a three-day endurance ride that covered most of the state of Michigan.

Make-A-Wish Michigan released the following statement in response: 

"We are deeply saddened to share that a tragic accident occurred in lonia 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 families."

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