Michigan Officials Charged With Manslaughter In Flint Water Crisis

Elias Hubbard
June 26, 2017

If found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the officials could face up to 15 years in prison.

April 20, 2016: Two state officials and a local official are charged with evidence tampering and other crimes in the MI attorney general's investigation - the first to be levied in the probe.

According to the Detroit Free Press, Lyon was aware of Legionnaires' disease outbreak as soon as 2013 but, did not notify the public until a year later.

March 28: Water lines at 18,000 homes in Flint will be replaced under a landmark deal approved by a judge, marking a milestone in the effort to overcome the disastrous decision in 2014 to draw water from the Flint River without treating it to prevent lead contamination.

The charges of involuntary manslaughter follow an outbreak of the highly unsafe Legionnaire's disease that spread in the city of Flint after a switch in water sourced.

The situation in Flint became a national scandal after the water crisis played out in plain sight for months while the state refused to acknowledge it.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is expressing support for two high-ranking state officials who have been charged in the Flint water investigation.

The water from the Flint River, from where it began drawing its supply, was more corrosive than its previous source and lead began leaching from the pipes.

"The latest round of charges brought forth against top current and former officials in the Snyder Administration is troubling, infuriating, and a disgrace to the people of Flint and the State of Michigan", Shariff said.

Lyon was personally briefed in January 2015 but "took no action to alert the public of a deadly" outbreak until almost a year later, special agent Jeff Seipenko told a judge as the charges were filed.

In addition to the involuntary manslaughter charges, Lyon also has been charged for misconduct in office, and Eden Wells, the chief medical executive for the state, was charged with both obstruction of justice and lying to a peace officer.

Gov. Rick Snyder named Lyon director of DHHS in April 2015 when he created a new agency that merged the former departments of community health and human services. Shekter Smith and Busch were state environmental regulators. Some experts have blamed the water for the Legionnaires' outbreak. He's accused of failing to alert the public of a Legionnaires' disease outbreak.

Over a dozen former state and city officials have been criminally charged as a result of the crisis. Lead poisoning is devastating but slow - but the water also carried other contaminants whose effects showed up more quickly, including the bacteria that cause Legionnaires' disease.

Larry Willey and Chip Chamberlain, Lyon's attorneys, said that there "appears to be a misguided theory looking for facts that do not exist".

Almost three years after the crisis started, Flint is still struggling to recover as the city institutes new regulations to prevent this from happening again. Toxic lead from old plumbing leached into the water system, causing elevated levels in children and leaving residents to drink and bathe with bottled or filtered water.

SCHUETTE: These charges reflect the deaths which have occurred and the conduct which caused these deaths in the city of Flint. Schuette said that the Flint water crisis exposed a "serious lack of confidence" in government leaders.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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