A Michigan USA woman has been ordered to stand trial on two second degree murder charges after the car she was driving veered head-on into five cyclists in July at the Make-A-Wish gran fondo, killing two of them.
Ionia County District Judge Raymond Voet said during a preliminary hearing Thursday that Mandy Benn, 42, was high on a “cocktail of drugs,” despite comments from her attorney that she had only therapeutic levels of medication in her system.
Voet added that Benn acted with a “wanton and willful … disregard of life.”
Prosecutor Kyle Butler told the court Benn was trying to pass a delivery truck in her 2019 Toyota RAV4 on 30 July on a rural road in Ronald Township when she crossed the center line and drove into five cyclists head-on who were participating in a three-day 300-mile gran fondo charity ride for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Edward Erickson, 48, and Michael Salhaney, 57, were killed. Three other men were seriously hurt.
According to police officer reports presented in court, Benn had no alcohol in her system but had slurred speech and couldn’t follow instructions. Evidence was also presented that she used prescription drugs and tested positive for three different drugs.
After the bicyclists were hit, Benn appeared confused and disoriented according to testimony from Detective Sgt. Phillip Hesche,“She looked right at me, and she says, ‘Wow, officer that almost looks real,’ I was really taken aback by that. It was like she was on a different planet.”
If found guilty of second degree murder, the court judge has the discretion to imprison Benn in a Michigan State prison for life, or a term of any length, for each count.
Photos/Media: Gran Rapids Press