The head of Michigan’s health department has been charged with involuntary manslaughter in the ongoing Flint water crisis.
In a report from the Washington Post, Nick Lyon, the director of the state’s health department, along with four other public officials, were charged with involuntary manslaughter for their role in the Flint water crisis by the state’s attorney general’s office on Wednesday. Lyon also faces one count of misconduct in office, with both charges being felonies.
The other four public officials charged with involuntary manslaughter include: Stephen Busch, a water supervisor for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality; Darnell Earley, who had been a state-appointed emergency manager for Flint; Howard Croft, former director of the city’s public works department; and Liane Shekter-Smith, who served as chief of the state’s Office of Drinking Water.
The charges not only stem from the lead-tainted water that exposed Flint residents (especially children) to potential long-term health risks, but an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease linked to the water crisis. The disease has resulted in at least a dozen deaths.
According to documents filed in court, Lyon was aware of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak by early 2015 but “did not notify the public until a year later.” The documents also claim that he “willfully disregarded the deadly nature of the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak,” saying “[we] can’t save everyone” and “everyone has to die of something.”
Alongside Lyon and the four other public officials, Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive, faces charges of obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer a dozen other local and state officials are facing criminal charges.