In a somber courtroom in Ionia, Michigan, Mandy Benn, 44, has been sentenced to at least 70 years in prison for the deaths of two bicyclists during a charity ride in 2022. The tragic incident occurred when Benn, under the influence of drugs, crossed the center line and struck a group of cyclists participating in a charity event for the Make-A-Wish Foundation on a rural road.
“Michigan Woman Sentenced to 70 Years for Tragic Deaths of Bicyclists in Charity Ride”
The judge in Ionia County, Ronald Schafer, handed down a rare consecutive punishment, stacking two 35-year terms for Benn. This departure from the usual concurrent sentencing in Michigan courts reflects the severity of the crime and the devastating impact it had on the victims and their families.
The victims, Edward Erickson, 48, of Ann Arbor, and Michael Salhaney, 57, of Bloomfield Hills, lost their lives during a three-day endurance event aimed at raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The charity ride, intended to bring hope and joy to children facing critical illnesses, took a tragic turn as the cyclists faced an unexpected and fatal collision.
During the sentencing, Judge Schafer emphasized that the incident was not an accident but the result of a series of choices made by Benn. He highlighted her decision to ingest a dangerous mix of narcotics, leading to the fatal collision that claimed two lives and caused severe injuries to other participants.
“This is not an accident. … There was a series of choices you made at some point to ingest this cocktail of narcotics, and that led to everything we saw,” stated Judge Schafer, underscoring the gravity of Benn’s actions.
In October, Benn was convicted of second-degree murder along with other charges related to the incident. During her appearance in court on Tuesday, she offered an apology, expressing remorse for the lives lost and the irreversible impact on the injured bicyclists. “I know you haven’t seen much of it, but I am very much so sorry. I never in my life had any intent of hurting anyone. One moment — that moment — changed the outcome of a lot of futures,” said Benn.
The sentencing serves as a stark reminder of the devastating consequences of impaired driving and the ripple effect it can have on innocent lives. The judge’s decision to impose a lengthy prison term reflects the severity of the offense and the need for accountability in the face of such a tragic incident.
As the legal proceedings conclude, the community and the families of the victims are left to grapple with the profound loss caused by the actions of one individual, emphasizing the importance of road safety and the consequences of driving under the influence.