Michigan’s former chief medical officer has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for her part in the Flint Water crisis and a deadly outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease that stemmed from it.
Dr. Eden Wells is the sixth Michigan official to be charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection to the Flint water crisis, created by government officials after a cost-cutting measure led to widespread water contamination that sickened city residents.
The Michigan Attorney General’s office announced on Monday, Oct. 9, that it filed manslaughter charges against Dr. Wells, about three months after she was charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly misleading investigators and attempting to halt a probe of the water crisis.
Five other Michigan officials, including Nick Lyon, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services director, were charged in June for their alleged roles in the disaster.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says that, in total, 15 state and local officials face 51 criminal charges in connection with the crisis.
Flint’s water crisis started in 2014 after city managers appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder switched the city’s water supply from the Detroit municipal system to the Flint River without properly treating the pipes first.
The highly acidic Flint River water leached lead from pipes in many homes throughout the city. The problem became evident when doctors in the area started noticing Flint children had elevated levels of lead in their blood.
Prosecutors contend that Dr. Wells and the other officials facing criminal charges caused the death of Robert Skidmore in 2015 after they failed to alert the public about an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease tied to the contaminated water supply.
The same Legionnaire’s Disease outbreak sickened several others, including 12 who died in Genesee County.
Prosecutors say that there would be additional charges against Dr. Wells. Special prosecutor Todd Flood told the press that he couldn’t get into the details of the case, but said that the state would “be derelict if we didn’t charge her.”