Michigan's Chief Medical Executive Faces Involuntary Manslaughter In Flint Water Crisis
Michigan’s top medical executive is facing two new criminal charges stemming from an outbreak of Legionnaires disease tied to the Flint water crisis. Prosecutor Todd Flood announced a plan to charge Dr. Eden Wells with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct during a court hearing Monday (Oct. 9).
Flood brought the charges against Wells after new information came out in the trial of Flint's Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon, in regards to the outbreak that was linked to more than 80 cases of the Legionnaires’ disease, and a dozen deaths, Reuters reports.
Lyon faces the same charges as Wells, who is also accused of lying to police about the outbreak.
“I really can’t get into the details of it but I think we’d be derelict if we didn’t charge her,” Flood told reporters at a hearing Monday morning. “Based on a new review of other documents and testimony that came out last week, we believe that discovery put us in this place.”
A hearing in the case is scheduled for Nov. 6.
Wells is one of a handful of current and former state officials to face charges in regards to the water crisis. She faces up to 15 years on the manslaughter charge, and two years for obstruction.
Flint switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014, the result of which caused devastating health issues. While city officials initially assured residents that the water sourced from the river was “safe,” a lead advisory was finally released the following year.
The water crisis is also found to have had a “horrifyingly large” effect on birth rates , according to a study released in August by economists Daniel Grossman of West Virginia University and David Slusky of Kansas University.
The study, which has yet to receive a peer review and cannot be “well established” without a longer investigation, compares the number of live births and fetal deaths in Michigan from 2008 to 2015 to “estimate the effect of a change in the water supply in Flint on fertility and health.”
The results found a 12 percent decrease in the general fertility rates per 1,000 women ages 15-49. Additionally, fetal deaths rates increased by 58 percent after the water source was switched and “overall health at birth decreased,” compared to other cities in Michigan.
Flint has been without clean drinking water for nearly three years.