Driver charged in deaths of 2 bicyclists on charity ride

IONIA, Mich. (AP) — 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.

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.”

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