Member of Gov. Snyder's cabinet charged with manslaughter in Flint Water Crisis

FLINT, Mich. (WXYZ) - A member of Gov. Rick Snyder's cabinet is one of five people who are facing multiple charges for their role in the Flint Water Crisis.

Nick Lyon, the director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and misconduct in office.

The others facing those charges include former Flint Emergency Manger Darnell Earley, former City of Flint Water Department Manager Howard Croft, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Drinking Water Chief Lian Shekter-Smith and Water Supervisor Stephen Busch are also charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Dr. Eden Wells with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has also been charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a police officer. 

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced the charges Wednesday morning.

"We are confident, very confident, that the charges we have filed and the allegations we have made will be upheld by the courts," Schuette said during the press conference.

In addition to Lyons and Wells, 13 people have been charged, including two former emergency managers.

"The Flint water investigation is the most comprehensive investigation in (the) modern history of Michigan," Schuette added. "We have conducted interviews with more than 250 people and we have poured over hundreds of thousands of emails and other relevant documents."

Today's announcement comes just a day after a group delivered more than 1,000 water bottles to Lansing as a message to the governor and attorney general.

The group placed messages in the water bottles, detailing how the water crisis has impacted them, bringing them to the state officers.

They say they are thirsty for safe drinking water.

Experts have linked the unsafe drinking water to an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease in Genesee County, the home to Flint.

In 2014 and 2015, there were more than 100 cases of Legionnaires' that left 12 people dead from the disease.

For more than three years, Flint families have been told not to drink tap water without a filter.

"The health crisis in Flint has created a trust crisis in Michigan government, exposing a serious lack of confidence in leaders to accept responsibility and solve problems," Schuette said. "The families of Flint have experienced a tragic health and safety crisis for the past three years. The children of Flint have been exposed to lead poisoning."

As the state investigation continues, progress has been made to begin replacing the corroded pipes that caused the lead contamination, but families still want answers and a faster fix.

Gov. Snyder released this statement after the charges were announced:

Nick Lyon has been a strong leader at the Department of Health and Human Services for the past several years and remains completely committed to Flint's recovery. Director Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells, like every other person who has been charged with a crime by Bill Schuette, are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some state employees were charged over a year ago and have been suspended from work since that time. They still have not had their day in court. That is not justice for Flint nor for those who have been charged. Director Lyon and Dr. Wells have been and continue to be instrumental in Flint's recovery. They have my full faith and confidence, and will remain on duty at DHHS.

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