Official faces manslaughter charges in Flint water crisis
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A special prosecutor said Monday he’ll add a charge of involuntary manslaughter against Michigan’s chief medical executive in a criminal investigation of the tainted water crisis in Flint.
Dr. Eden Wells was in court for a key hearing on charges of obstruction of justice and lying to police during the investigation.
But the hearing was postponed until November 6 after the announcement by Todd Flood of the Michigan attorney general’s office.
Five other people have been charged with involuntary manslaughter tied to an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the Flint area in 2014-15.
The outbreak killed one man, Robert Skidmore, 85.
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Dr. Eden Wells is chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
Wells was in court on Monday and will now face manslaughter charges in the investigation into the Flint water crisis
Nick Lyon, who is Wells’ boss and the head of the state health department, is among the six charged.
The attorney general’s office says key officials knew about a spike in Legionnaires’, but failed to tell the public until January 2016.
Some experts have blamed the outbreak on Flint’s use of the Flint River for the city’s water supply.
Legionnaires’ is a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. The bacteria are commonly spread by mist and cooling systems.
Wells is the sixth executive to face manslaughter charges
Nearly 100 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths, were reported in Genesee County.
Wells was in court Monday for a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to send her to trial for obstruction of justice and lying to investigators.
When the hearing takes place in November, Flood will also try to present evidence that would support an involuntary manslaughter charge. The decision will be up to a judge.
The Legionnaires’ investigation is part of a larger probe into how Flint’s water system became poisoned when the city used Flint River water for 18 months. The water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes.
A LOOK BACK AT FLINT, MICHIGAN’S LEAD SCANDAL
Authorities in the financially struggling city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water source from Detroit’s system to the Flint River to save money in April 2014.
The river water was more corrosive than the Detroit system’s and caused more lead to leach from Flint’s aging pipes.
Lead can be toxic and children are especially vulnerable.
Some 8,000 children are believed to have been exposed to lead poisoning since April 2014. And there has been an uptick in cases of Legionnaire’s disease.
Authorities in the financially struggling city of Flint, Michigan, switched its water source from Detroit’s system to the Flint River to save money in April 2014
Some 8,000 children are believed to have been exposed to lead poisoning since April 2014. And there has been an uptick in cases of Legionnaire’s disease
The social costs stemming from the scandal amount to $395 million, according to a recent analysis by a professor at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
The crisis has prompted lawsuits by parents in Flint, which has a population of about 100,000, who say their children have shown dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.
In July six state employees in Michigan were criminally charged in connection with the case.
Some critics have called for high-ranking state officials, including Governor Rick Snyder, to be charged. Snyder said he believes he’s done nothing criminally wrong.
Here is a timeline of the events:
APRIL 2014: In an effort to save money, Flint began drawing its water from the Flint River instead of relying on water from Detroit.
The move was considered temporary while the city waited to connect to a new regional water system.
Residents immediately complained about the smell, taste and appearance of the water.
They also raised health concerns, reporting rashes, hair loss and other problems.
SUMMER 2014: Three boil-water advisories were issued in 22 days after positive tests for coliform bacteria.
OCTOBER 2014: A General Motors engine plant stopped using Flint water, saying it rusted parts.
JANUARY 2015: Flint sought an evaluation of its efforts to improve the water amid concerns that it contained potentially harmful levels of a disinfection byproduct.
Detroit offered to reconnect Flint to its water system. Flint insisted its water was safe.
JAN. 28 2015: Flint residents snapped up 200 cases of bottled water in 30 minutes in a giveaway program. More giveaways followed in ensuing months.
FEB. 3 2015: State officials pledged $2 million for Flint’s troubled water system.
In January of 2016, President Barack Obama signed emergency declaration and ordered federal aid for Flint, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief effortsb
FEBRUARY 2015: A 40-member advisory committee was formed to address concerns over Flint’s water.
Mayor Dayne Walling said the committee would ensure the community was involved in the issue.
MARCH 19 2015: Flint promised to spend $2.24 million on immediate improvements to its water supply.
MARCH 27 2015: Flint officials said the quality of its water had improved and that testing found the water met all state and federal standards for safety.
SEPT. 24 2015: A group of doctors led by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha of Hurley Medical Center urged Flint to stop using the Flint River for water after finding high levels of lead in the blood of children. State regulators insisted the water was safe.
SEPT. 29 2015: Gov. Rick Snyder pledged to take action in response to the lead levels. It was the first acknowledgment by the state that lead was a problem.
OCT. 2 2015: Snyder announced that the state would spend $1 million to buy water filters and test water in Flint public schools.
OCT. 8 2015: Snyder called for Flint to go back to using water from Detroit’s system again.
OCT. 15 2015: The Michigan Legislature and Snyder approved nearly $9.4 million in aid to Flint, including $6 million to help switch its drinking water back to Detroit.
The legislation also included money for water filters, inspections and lab testing.
NOV. 3 2015: Voters elected newcomer Karen Weaver over incumbent Mayor Dayne Walling amid fallout over the drinking water.
Snyder (pictured) declared a state of emergency in Flint in January 2016, the same day federal officials confirmed that they were investigating
DEC. 29 2015: Snyder accepted the resignation of Department of Environmental Quality Director Dan Wyant and apologized for what occurred in Flint.
JAN. 5 2016: Snyder declared a state of emergency in Flint, the same day federal officials confirmed that they were investigating.
JAN. 12 2016: Snyder activated the Michigan National Guard to help distribute bottled water and filters in Flint and asked the federal government for help.
JAN. 13 2016: Michigan health officials reported an increase in Legionnaires’ disease cases during periods over the past two years in the county that includes Flint.
JAN. 14 2016: Snyder asked the Obama administration for major disaster declaration and more federal aid.
JAN. 16 2016: President Barack Obama signed emergency declaration and ordered federal aid for Flint, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts.
APRIL 2016: Governor Rick Snyder hit back
at critics who said he should be charged. Snyder said he believes he’s done nothing criminally wrong.
JULY 2016: Six state employees in Michigan criminally charged in connection with the case.