Make-A-Wish Michigan cancels final day of tour, offers counseling after cyclists die in crash

Carol Thompson
The Detroit News

Make-A-Wish Michigan canceled the final day of its annual weekend-long Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour event out of respect for the families of cyclists killed in a Saturday car crash. 

"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," the nonprofit said in a statement. "We are thankful to the first responders who arrived immediately to save lives."

The nonprofit also is offering grief counseling to riders, staff and volunteers participating in the 35th annual tour. 

A driver crashed into a group of bicyclists in Ionia County's Ronald Township on Saturday at about 11:15 a.m., the Ionia County Sheriff's Office said. The agency described the scene as a "vehicular mass-casualty incident." 

The driver of an SUV traveling north on Stage Road struck a group of five southbound cyclists. The SUV crossed the center line while trying to pass another vehicle, the sheriff's office said. 

Two cyclists were killed and three were severely injured in the crash. 

The driver was arrested and jailed on suspicion of operating while intoxicated. The sheriff's office has not named the driver or the riders. 

The Wish-A-Mile Bicycle Tour is a 300-mile event in which cyclists travel the Lower Peninsula on a three-day ride. There also are shorter events, including a 50-mile ride, a virtual ride and a gated loop ride for kids.

The shorter events had been scheduled for Sunday and were canceled out of respect for the families of the cyclists who died.

The top fundraiser who participate in the cycling event generated $62,107 for Make-A-Wish, according to the race website. 

Make-A-Wish is a nonprofit that raises money to provide wishes — such as having a quinceañera, be a firefighter or meet a unicorn — for children with critical illnesses.