Dr. Eden Wells

Dr. Eden Wells (Source: WNEM)

Hearings resumed on Monday for another top Michigan health official facing charges for the Flint water crisis.

Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical examiner for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, is charged with involuntary manslaughter for failing to warn the public about a deadly legionnaires' outbreak.

"We wanted to compare where we were finding the problem and if we could get more detail as to what the problem was," said Jim Sygo, deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at the beginning of the water crisis.

During his testimony on Monday, Sygo said his department was notified in early 2015 of an increase in legionella and started investigating.

Sygo used the term outbreak and said that would be seeing more legionella than one might expect.

In court Sygo went over timelines and meetings he had with Wells.

Wells is charged in connection to the death of John Snyder.

Mary Anne Tribble is Snyder's daughter and took the witness stand on Monday.

"This is a picture of my father in March 17, 2015. We were out celebrating St. Patrick's Day. We were at the White Horse," Tribble said.

Snyder died a few months later in June of 2015.

Tribble told the court her 83-year-old father had chronic leukemia and arthritis prior to his last hospital stay. She said doctors told her those conditions had nothing to do with his death.

"They were there prior to his passing and after. Prior to his passing, that's when we found out he had legionella," Tribble said.

The defense argues Wells had nothing to do with Snyder's death. They say she started her new position just one month before he died, making it impossible she could have caused his death.

Special Prosecutor Todd Flood questioned Sygo about the timeline of events. Sygo said he discussed legionella with Wells in September of 2015, about four months before the public was notified.

"What was the response from Dr. Wells in that September meeting," Flood asked Sygo.

"No," Sygo responded.

"No comment whatsoever," Flood asked.

"Well, she said she would look into it," Sygo said.

Wells is charged with involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.

The state attorney general said Wells and others could have saved lives by telling the public about a Legionnaires' outbreak. It wasn't disclosed until January 2016.

Flood added the manslaughter charge in October. There's no dispute that some officials knew about a spike in Legionnaires' but failed to tell the public until January 2016. Five others face the same charge, including Michigan health director Nick Lyon.

Some experts have blamed the outbreak on Flint's use of the Flint River for water.

A judge must decide if there's enough evidence to send Wells to trial. The hearing will resume Tuesday.

Copyright 2017 WNEM (Meredith Corporation)/The Associated Press. All rights reserved.



Recommended for you