A Michigan judge ruled on Friday that the state’s chief medical executive will be one of six people to face trial on involuntary manslaughter and other criminal charges linked to the Flint water crisis.
The Attorney General’s office charged Dr. Eden Wells last year with obstruction of justice and lying to police after stating that she knew of a spike in Legionnaires’ bacteria in the Flint area in 2014 and 2015 but stayed too long to tell the public.
During that period the outbreak of the disease affected at least 90 people in Genesee County, leading to the deaths of 12. A manslaughter charge was later included to Wells’ case.
Wells, a member of Gov. Rick Snyder’s cabinet, has rejected any offense and her attorneys states she had no legal duty to warn the public.
Legionella bacteria can caused a serious type of pneumonia. Those with weakened immune systems are more prone to catching the disease.
Some experts have faulted the outbreak on the use of the Flint River for municipal water. Over half of the cases had a related thread. The patients spent time at McLaren Hospital, which was on the Flint water system.
The examination by state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office is part of a bigger probe into how Flint’s water system became contaminated when the city used Flint River water for 18 months. The water wasn’t treated to reduce corrosion. As a result, lead leached from old pipes.
Wells will be among six people facing an involuntary manslaughter charge in relation to the outbreak