From the September-October 2018 issue of News & Letters
Flint, Mich.—Nick Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, has been ordered to stand trial on two counts of involuntary manslaughter by Judge David Goggins of the 67th District Court in Flint. The manslaughter counts arise from the death of two men in their 80s from Legionnaires’ Disease, a severe form of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria.
Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease associated with the contaminated Flint water supply until January 2016, more than a year after he was aware of the outbreak. Between 2014 and 2015, at least a dozen people died from Legionnaires’ Disease in Flint’s Genesee County. Fourteen other state officials have been charged with involuntary manslaughter.
If Nick Lyon and the other officials had alerted the public, there would have been additional political pressure on all levels of government to spend the money necessary to replace the lead service lines that caused the Flint water crisis. The 15 officials should be held accountable, but the Michigan Attorney General has chosen the easy route of spending money prosecuting 15 scapegoats as a substitute for replacing the lead service lines. The lines are being replaced, but at a slow rate, and the people of Flint are still plagued by lead poisoning, trihalomethanes and coliform bacteria.