Mandy Benn, a Michigan woman, was handed a staggering 70-year prison sentence for causing a devastating crash that claimed the lives of two bicyclists during a charity ride. The Ionia County judge imposed a rare consecutive punishment, stacking two 35-year terms, a departure from the more common concurrent sentences in Michigan courts.
The tragic incident, which occurred on a rural road in 2022, saw Benn driving under the influence of drugs. Her vehicle veered across the center line, striking a group of bicyclists participating in a three-day endurance event organized by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The collision resulted in the deaths of Edward Erickson, 48, of Ann Arbor, and Michael Salhaney, 57, of Bloomfield Hills, leaving the community and event participants in shock. In a statement that underscored the gravity of the situation, Judge Ronald Schafer declared, “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.”
Benn, 44, faced the consequences of her actions in October when she was convicted of second-degree murder among other charges. In a poignant moment in court on Tuesday, she expressed her remorse, acknowledging the names of the deceased and injured bicyclists. “I know you haven’t seen much of it but I am very much so sorry,” Benn said. “I never in my life had any intent of hurting anyone. One moment — that moment — changed the outcome of a lot of futures.”
This case has drawn significant attention, not only for the tragic loss of life but also for the severe sentencing, highlighting the devastating consequences of driving under the influence and the long-lasting impact such actions can have on multiple families and communities.