Five water officials who failed to properly respond to the Flint Water Crisis are being charged with involuntary manslaughter, including a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet.
Nick Lyon, director of Snyder’s Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as four other Michigan officials have been accused of failing for months to warn the public that their drinking water was poisoned by lead-based contaminants. Many experts have linked the 12 deaths and 79 nonlethal cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the area to the contaminated water, though the manslaughter charges specifically apply to the death of Robert Skidmore, who died of Legionnaires’ disease in December of 2015.
An involuntary manslaughter charge is a felony punishable by up to 15 years and/or a $7,500 fine.
Gov. Snyder plans to continue allowing Lyons and fellow-accused Michigan chief medical officer Dr. Eden Wells to keep working.
“Nick Lyon has been a strong leader at the Department of Health and Human Services for the past several years and remains completely committed to Flint’s recovery. Director Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells, like every other person who has been charged with a crime by Bill Schuette, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” Snyder said in a statement.
“It’s terrible what has occurred but it’s a good day for the people of the city of Flint,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver. “We’ve had people die as a result of this water crisis. And for justice to be had is wonderful.”
Weaver called Attorney General Bill Schuette “a man of his word. He did what he said he was going to do. And he hasn’t backed down, so we’re thankful.”
Nathan Wellman is a Los Angeles-based journalist, author, and playwright. His less-political Youtube channel can be found here. Follow him on Twitter: @LightningWOW