Michigan health department head Nick Lyon was charged Wednesday with involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water crisis.
According to the Associated Press, Lyon allegedly failed to publicly announce a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. Legionnaires’ disease—a severe form of pneumonia caused by Legionella bacteria often found in “complex plumbing systems” according to the NYC Health Department—has been linked to Flint’s detrimental water quality.
AP is awaiting comment from Lyon’s attorneys.
The Flint water crisis began in 2014 shortly after the Flint River became Flint, Mich.’s main water source. The water was not treated during the transition, causing high levels of lead to be leached into residents’ drinking water. A state of emergency was declared in January 2016.
According to a report published by The Atlantic last year, Dr. Edith Wells, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services “told reporters that 87 cases of the disease had been reported between June 2014 and November 2015.” Between 8,000 and 18,000 people are estimated to be hospitalized with Legionnaire’s disease each year.
This story is developing.