Nick Lyon, the director of Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services, will stand trial for two counts of involuntary manslaughter and one count of neglect of duty after two men died of Legionnaires’ disease during the Flint water crisis in 2015.
“The victims’ deaths, that is Robert Skidmore and John Snyder, their deaths were caused by this neglect of the defendant, in [Nick Lyon’s] failure to act appropriately with regarding to disseminating notices to the public,” District Judge David Goggins said Monday. Lyon said he knew of the cases about one year before the outbreak was publicly disclosed in January 2016.
“It’s a long way from over,” Lyon, who denies wrongdoing, told The Associated Press.
Flint officials changed the city’s main water supply from the Detroit system to the Flint River in 2014. Not only were dangerously high levels of lead found in the Flint River water during the 18 months of its use, but studies also showed that low chlorine levels in the city’s water caused the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, which infected at least 90 people and killed 12.
Another 14 officials charged in Flint-related cases have either signed plea deals or are awaiting a decision.
“The people of Flint have been traumatized by the actions, or lack of actions, by state officials,” Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said in a statement. “This is a good step on the road to recovery and healing for the people of Flint. I hope that the state continues to be held accountable for the state’s decisions.”