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Michigan Officials Charged With Manslaughter For Water Crisis

First Posted: Jun 15, 2017 04:23 AM EDT
Flint Continues To Struggle With Water Contamination Crisis
Flint Mayor Karen Weaver speaks to residents during a town hall on water, public safety and job opportunities on March 17, 2016 in Flint, Michigan. Flint continues to work through the effects of lead-contaminated water supply.
(Photo : Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

A number of past and present Michigan state officials were charged with involuntary manslaughter. This was in connection with the Legionnaires' outbreak that killed 12 people during the Flint water crisis.

CNN reported that charges have been announced for five state and city officials. Among those charged was Nick Lyon, the current director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. He was also charged with one count of misconduct in office, a felony charge that carries a five-year sentence in prison.

Another official charged was former Flint emergency manager Darnell Earley, who now faces involuntary manslaughter along with other lower-ranking officials. Dr. Eden Wells, a state health department official, meanwhile, was charged with obstruction of justice and lying to an officer.

However, according to Reuters, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement that he still has "full faith and confidence" in Lyon and Wells. Also, they would remain on duty to help in Flint's recovery.

Some critics have also called for high-ranking state officials to be charged. Among those on their list included Snyder, who previously stated that he had not done anything criminally wrong.

All the charges stemmed from the over 80 cases of Legionnaires' disease, which was believed to be linked to the water in Flint after the city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014. Lyon was said to be aware of the Legionnaires' outbreak in Genesee County at least a year before he made a statement to the public.

Legionnaires' disease is a form of atypical pneumonia that is caused by bacteria. Cough, shortness of breath, high fever, muscle pains, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may all be symptoms of the disease.

The Flint crisis erupted in 2015 when tests found high amounts of lead in blood samples of children. The corrosive river water caused lead to leach from pipes and into drinking water. As of January this year, lead levels have fallen below dangerous levels as set by federal regulators.

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