Flint, MI — (RT) Michigan’s attorney general has filed new, more serious charges of involuntary manslaughter against five officials in the Flint Water Crisis investigation, among them the head of Michigan’s health department.
Heath chief Nick Lyon was charged with two felonies, involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office, for failing to alert the public about an outbreak in Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area, according to AP.
Some experts linked the outbreak to poor water quality during the height of water crisis in 2014-15. Nearly 100 people were affected during the Legionnaires outbreak, 12 of whom died.
“Mr. Lyon failed in his responsibility to protect the health and safety of the citizens of Flint,” Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette told reporters on Wednesday about charges that are moving closer than ever to Governor Rick Snyder.
“After being informed of the growing Legionnaires outbreak in Flint, Nick Lyon failed to inform the public of this health threat. A threat that cost of the life of Robert Skidmore.”
Skidmore was a great-grandfather with three sons, four grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He died from Legionnaires’ disease in December 2015.
Lyon’s was also charged for allegedly obstructing university researchers who are studying if the surge in cases was linked to the Flint River.
Lyon admitted he was aware of the Legionnaires’ outbreak for months but wanted to wait until investigators in the state Health and Human Services Department had finished their own probe.
Lyon, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison for the manslaughter and up to 5 years for the misconduct charge.
Four others were charged with involuntary manslaughter: former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Early; former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft; Michigan Department of Environment Quality’s Drinking Water Chief Laine Shekter-Smith; and Water Supervisor Steven Busch – all for failure to act in the Flint water crisis.