Tragedy During Michigan Make-A-Wish Bicycle Ride As 2 Cyclists Killed by Drunk Driver
In what was meant to be a weekend of coming together over a shared love to help children ended in tragedy Saturday during the annual Make-A-Wish Bicycle Tour.
According to reports, 5 riders in the annual Michigan event were hit by an SUV after it crossed the center line in Ronald Township. The accident left 2 cyclists dead, and 3 injured after it appeared the driver of the SUV crossed the center line while attempting to pass another vehicle. The driver of the SUV has now been arrested and charged with two counts of Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death according to WZZM13.
The annual bicycle tour, which started back in 1987, has bikers riding 300 miles from Canton to Mackinac. Known as WAM, the event has become a Michigan summer highlight. Shortly after the accident, Make-A-Wish released a statement saying,
"We are deeply saddened to share that a tragic accident occurred in Ionia County today involving cyclists participating in the Make-A-Wish Michigan 35th Annual Wish-A-Mile (WAM) Bicycle Tour. Two riders were killed, and three were injured after being struck by a car. Our staff and the entire Make-A-Wish family are heartbroken and offer our deepest sympathy for the riders involved, their loved ones, and all members of the WAM community during this difficult time. We are thankful to the first responders who arrived immediately to save lives. We are supporting our riders, staff, and volunteers with grief counseling and assisting with the law enforcement investigation. The third day of our WAM 300 as well as our one-day WAM 50 and WAM Jr. scheduled for Sunday, July 31 have been canceled out of respect for the families."
Many riders spent last Sunday doing a Memorial Lap at the proving grounds in Marshall to honor those lost and injured. Grand Blanc graduate Helena Hunt was riding in her 9th tour and decided to be part of the Memorial Lap on Sunday.
"The tribute ride was so beautiful. Our volunteers, medical staff, and state police escorted us into the track at Eaton Proving grounds. These people are always the unsung heroes who do so much work for the event to keep us safe along the ride and they worked extra this year in the moments of unexpected tragedy", she told us.
Make-A-Wish also shared its sorrow on Facebook with a post on the day after the horrible accident.
Killed were 57 years old Bloomfield Hills resident Michael Salhaney, a father of 7, and Ann Arbor resident Edward Erickson, 48, who leaves behind a wife and two children. GoFundMe accounts have been set up in honor of both men. There is also one for rider Roland Pascua who remains in the hospital recovering from his injuries.
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