The head of the Michigan health department was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter, the highest-ranking member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration to be snagged in a criminal investigation of Flint’s lead-contaminated water.
Nick Lyon is accused of misconduct in office for failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, which has been linked by some experts to poor water quality in 2014-15.
The manslaughter charge is punishable by up to 15 years in prison, while the misconduct charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
The state’s chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. The obstruction charge carries a prison term of up to two years.
Lyon’s failure to act resulted in the death of at least one person, 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, special agent Jeff Seipenko told a judge.
The charges were read in court by Seipenko, a member of the state attorney general’s team. Lyon and Wells were not in court. A message seeking comment was left for Lyon’s attorneys. Wells’ lawyer was not immediately known.
Flint began using water from the Flint River in 2014 but didn’t treat it to reduce corrosion, resulting in lead leaching from old plumbing into the water system. When the state was made aware of elevated lead levels in the drinking water, the Snyder administration confirmed the result and switched Flint back to the Detroit area water system in October 2015.
Some experts also have linked the water to Legionnaires’ disease, a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. People can get sick if they inhale mist or vapor, typically from cooling systems.
Twelve people died and another 79 in the Flint area were sickened in 2014 and 2015.
Hopefully more charges are coming, but the person who needs to be prosecuted and put behind bars is Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Never forget that he's the man behind this mess in Flint and still hasn't fixed the problem.
More as always on Flint from our friends at Eclectablog.