IONIA, Mich. — A woman has been ordered to stand trial on second-degree murder and other charges after five cyclists were hit by her vehicle while riding at a summer charity event in West Michigan.
Ionia County District Judge Raymond Voet told a preliminary hearing on Thursday that Mandy Benn was intoxicated by a ‘cocktail of drugs’, despite testimony that she had only therapeutic levels of drugs in its system, MLive.com reported.
Voet also said Benn, 42, acted with a “gratuitous and willful disregard for life”.
Ionia County District Attorney Kyle Butler said Benn was trying to pass a UPS truck on July 30 on a rural road in Ronald Township when it crossed the center line and hit cyclists participating in a race three-day endurance race for the Make-A. -Wish Foundation.
Ronald Township is northeast of Grand Rapids.
Benn had no alcohol in her system but had slurred speech and couldn’t follow instructions, said Butler, who added there was evidence she was using prescription drugs.
Edward Erickson, 48, of Ann Arbor, and Michael Salhaney, 57, of Bloomfield Hills, were killed. Three other men were injured.
WZZM-TV reported that a woman who lives along the road where the cyclists were hit witnessed the accident.
“My window overlooks the road, and I saw a body flying through the air,” testified Shoni Mayle.
After the cyclists were hit, Benn appeared confused and disoriented, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Detective Sergeant. Phillip Hesche testified.
“She looked me straight in the eye and she said, ‘Wow, an officer that almost looks real,'” Hesche said. “I was really surprised by that. It was like she was on another planet.
Geoffrey French, a supervisor with the state police toxicology unit, testified that three prescription drugs were found in Benn’s system. Prosecutors said she did not have a prescription for any of the drugs.
French agreed with defense attorney Walter Downes that there were therapeutic levels of drugs in his system. “None of the results were super, super big,” French testified.
But the drugs can have adverse effects, he said during questioning by the prosecution.