Despite three years of complaints, official queries and an expanding investigation by state Attorney General Bill Schuette, the Flint water crisis is still a very real threat to the residents of the Michigan city. Court agreements to replace faulty water lines by 2020 signal some progress, though as recent foreclosure threats over unpaid water bills indicate, things won’t improve anytime soon. However, the Associated Press reports Schuette’s investigation just made a big break by announcing charges for Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon — including involuntary manslaughter.
Per AP reporter Meg Kinnard, Lyon is “accused of failing to alert public about Flint-area Legionnaires’ disease outbreak,” which the state AG’s investigation and scientific inquiries have “linked… to poor water quality” in the area. Wednesday’s announcement makes Lyon, a 2015 appointee by Gov. Snyder, the “highest-ranking official to be charged” as a result of the ongoing investigation so far.
MLive notes in addition to involuntary manslaughter, Genesee District Judge David Guinn authorized a “single count of misconduct in office” for Lyon, though the former carries the most weight as it carries a possible jail sentence of 15 years. State Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells was also charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. Four other state officials were previously charged with various felonies due to their involvement in the Flint water crisis. Many have called for charges against Gov. Snyder as well, though the Republican has noted he is “not concerned.”