Michigan Health Officials Charged With Manslaughter For Flint Water Crisis
The Flint water crisis that started back in 2014 was a situation handled poorly by state officials. The result was lead exposure among thousands of Flint residents and an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease that killed over a dozen people.
Nearly three years after the crisis started, Flint is still struggling to recover as the city institutes new regulations to prevent this from happening again. Steps are also being taken to make sure that those who failed are held accountable.
Michigan Officials Charged
Bill Schuette, Michigan's Attorney General, has filed criminal charges against five state health officials for their handling of the 2014 crisis. This includes Nick Lyon, the head of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. This makes Lyon the highest-ranking official charged in the criminal investigation. Lyon, along with the other four officials, are being charged with involuntary manslaughter for failing to alert the public about the outbreak of Legionnaires' disease. Specifically, the charge stems from the death of 85-year-old Robert Skidmore, who contracted Legionnaires' disease as a result of lead exposure.
Michigan's chief medical officer, Dr. Eden Wells, is also facing charges as a result of the investigation. However, she is being charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer.
Schuette took to Twitter, expressing his thoughts on the matter:
Children have been exposed to lead. People in Flint have died as a result of decisions made by the individuals we are charging today.
— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 14, 2017
Gov. Rick Snyder did voice his support for Lyon and Wells, saying that the pair is presumed innocent. Snyder also said that the two will continue to serve at the Department of Health and Human Services despite the charges brought against them. He didn't comment on the four other officials.
As mentioned, a key part of the charges goes back to how Lyon handled alerting residents to the contaminated water and Legionnaires' outbreak. Lyon was reportedly briefed about the danger of a potential outbreak in January of 2015, but didn't alert the public. As a result, there were almost 100 cases of Legionnaires' disease between 2014 and 2015, leading to the deaths of 12 people, including Skidmore.
Lyon admitted to knowing about the threat of an outbreak, but wanted to wait until a probe from the Health and Human Services. They wanted to find a solution for the crisis before bringing it up with the Governor's office, but which proved to be harder than anticipated.
Kevin Billings Tech Times editor Kevin Billings is a born geek at heart. Whether it's video games, movies, tv, comics, or tech, you will likely find Kevin there. And he feels gratified in his passions now that geek culture has come to dominate mainstream pop culture.