IONIA, Mich. — The woman charged with hitting and killing two people and injuring three others during a charity bike ride was back in court Thursday as prosecutors played audio and video clips detailing the moments before and after the crash.
Mandy Marie Benn, 42, is facing several charges related to the deadly July 30 crash, including operating a vehicle while under the influence causing death.
She is also facing two counts of operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance causing death, which are 15-year felony charges.
Her case was bound over to circuit court Thursday.
In court, prosecutors played audio clips that Benn allegedly recorded in the minutes leading up to the crash, sending them to a Facebook group chat she was in.
“I just want to find somewhere and kill myself… I’m not exaggerating; I want to die,” Benn is seemingly heard saying in one.
A female friend responds to her with an audio message of her own, saying, “Mandy, if you are feeling that way, you need to go to an emergency room…”
“I’m going to be honest with you, I cannot handle you messaging me all these messages. I can’t understand what you’re saying; you make no sense.”
Benn responds with two more audio messages, the final clip allegedly sent at 11:14 a.m., mere seconds before the crash.
“I don’t blame you … It’s been nice knowing you,” Benn is heard saying before ending the clip.
Benn is slurring her words and seemingly crying in the clips.
“I have not touched one drink; I have not touched one drug … this is me being overemotional and don’t know how to handle them,” Benn claims in one of the clips.
An Ionia police detective said on the stand that Benn has a history of recording live videos for social media while driving.
A female gas station worker also testified Thursday about an encounter she had with Benn in the hours prior to the crash.
She explained on the stand that Benn appeared to be intoxicated in some manner.
“The way she was parked at the pump, the way she was trying to bring the gas pump over the vehicle,” the worker described.
“She was just out of it … to me, she seemed like she was on something.”
The cyclists she is accused of hitting were participating in the Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour, a three-day endurance ride covering most of the state of Michigan.
One of the men killed was 57-year-old attorney Michael Salhaney, who was riding as a team captain in the Make-A-Wish tour.
The other man killed was 48-year-old Edward Erickson of Ann Arbor.
Prosecutors have said Benn was not drunk but told investigators on scene she had prescriptions for Adderall and Suboxone. They also allegedly found prescription benzodiazepine bottles in her vehicle as well.
Adderall is a stimulant typically prescribed for ADHD. Suboxone is a drug typically given to people going through opiate withdrawal, while benzodiazepines are typically prescribed to treat anxiety.
A toxicologist with the state police crime lab explained what they found in Benn’s report from the day of the crash.
Based on their toxicology report, Benn is believed to have been on Suboxone, Hydrocodone (sometimes known as Vicodin, Norco, etc.), and Lorazepam, which is a benzodiazepine.
In Thursday, the court also heard testimony from a Michigan State Police trooper about Benn being arrested in 2017 for operating a vehicle under the influence prior to her arrest following the deadly crash.
The trooper said he found a “crystalline substance” in a clear baggie, that he presumed to be amphetamines.
Benn allegedly claimed it was an “over-the-counter medication.”
Eventually he says Benn admitted it was amphetamines.
When he asked if she had used any that day, she apparently said she had “just a taste.”
He also claimed to have found pill bottles with labels ripped off a glass pipe.
Benn is next scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, Nov. 29.