Why 5 officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter

The five charged Wednesday are all blamed in the death of an 85-year-old man who had Legionnaires’ disease

The tweet comes after Bill Schuette charged Michigan Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon and four other former Flint and state officials with involuntary manslaughter for failing to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in the Flint area.

NICK LYON - As the Director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, a position whose duties are outlined in the Michigan Constitution, Lyon has a duty to protect public health.

On Wednesday it was reported that multiple MI lawmakers and officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

LIANE SHEKTER-SMITH - As the Chief of the Office of Drinking Water and Municipal Assistance at the Department of Environmental Quality, Shekter-Smith had the ability to order the Flint Water Treatment Plant shut down for failure to produce safe water. And a very serious charge.

December 20: Schuette charges former emergency managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose with multiple 20-year felonies for their failure to protect the residents of Flint from health hazards caused by contaminated drinking water.

After being informed about a potentially fatal health risk, Lyon allegedly deliberately failed to inform the public of a deadly Legionnaires' Disease outbreak, which resulted in the death of Robert Skidmore.

"Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint's recovery". Lead from old plumbing leached into the water system.

Some experts also have linked the water to Legionnaires' disease, a type of pneumonia caused by bacteria that thrive in warm water and infect the lungs. "We were not successful", he said.

Lyon also is charged with misconduct in office for allegedly obstructing university researchers who are studying if the surge in cases was linked to the Flint River. Lyon's responsibility was to protect public health, but investigation showed he allegedly received notice of a deadly Legionnaires' disease outbreak in Genesee County nearly one year before he informed the public. Investigators say Lyon also denied independent scientists from researching if the spike was tied to the untreated Flint River water. Shekter Smith and Busch were state environmental regulators.

Skidmore, 85, was one of 12 people to die from the disease and almost 100 cases of people being sickened from it.

The attorney general says the investigation is still in progress.

The Flint crisis erupted in 2015 when tests found high amounts of lead in blood samples of children. People can get sick if they inhale mist or vapor, typically from cooling systems. Even now, officials recommend that only filtered tap water be consumed, and many residents say they can trust only bottled water, given false assurances they once received from state and local officials. "They can get a conviction but it's not going to be easy". He died at home six months later. The public was officially notified of the outbreak over one year later in January 2016.

His grandfather would bemoan "how Flint changed for the worst from when he was growing up and raising his family", Craig Skidmore told The Associated Press.

In all, Schuette has charged 15 people with dozens of crimes related to their alleged involvement in the city's water crisis.

Last summer, Schuette began his investigation in earnest by successfully obtaining a restraining order to keep the Snyder administration from working with personnel at the Genesee County Health Department and a Flint hospital to destroy records related to lead poisoning and Legionella deaths.


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