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Family pleased to see new charges in father’s Legionnaires’ disease death

Former top state health officials Nick Lyon and Eden Wells are facing nine counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection to nine people who died of Legionnaires’ disease during the water crisis.
Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 7:10 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (1/15/2021) - The Michigan Attorney General’s Office formally charged two top state health department employees with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter Thursday.

Those nine charges are connected to nine people who died of Legionnaires’ disease from June through August 2015, during Flint’s water crisis.

John Snyder is one of the nine.

He died June 30, 2015 after it’s believed he contracted Legionnaires’ disease while being treated at McLaren Flint hospital.

“I think, as a family, we were just happy that the state, Attorney General, followed through on their pledge to at least see this investigation to the end,” Mike Snyder said.

This is the second time state health officials, Nick Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells, are charged with his father’s death. Their cases were initially dropped in June 2019.

John Snyder’s family shared Friday they their doubts on whether anyone would be held accountable again.

John Snyder was an aeronautical engineer before he became an appraiser and founded Snyder Real Estate in Flint.

He retired in 2014. John Snyder’s family has said their sharp-minded, always-on-the-go Father had much more life to live. But, he passed just a year later, a few months after he was first admitted to McLaren Flint in April 2015.

“I mean, just as we said before, it’s so unfortunate, just a complete cluster bleep all the way around,” Mike Snyder explained.

John Snyder would’ve turned 90-years-old this year. While his son isn’t sure he’d still be around today, he knows they shouldn’t have lost him the way they did in June 2015.

John Snyder died of Legionnaires’ disease at age 83, right before his next birthday.

“Somebody that loved life, as I say there was never an occasion where there wasn’t a chance to celebrate for some reason. You know, St. Patrick’s Day, you know, Big Brothers at Luigi’s, for Old Newsboys,” Mike Snyder shared. “There was never much grass that ever grew under his feet.”

Mike Snyder explained their family met with the new investigative team about a year ago. That’s when they learned the investigation was continuing; but, he said that’s the only conversation they had.

“Kind of the abruptness of how the previous investigation ended, you just kind of well, maybe they just want to get it down the road, which I’m sure they still do, but we had our doubts,” he said.

But Mike Snyder explained, someone needed to be held accountable for his Dad’s death. The new team announced Thursday that state health officials, Nick Lyon and Dr. Eden Wells, will be.

“We’re not out for vengeance from that standpoint. Obviously, their lives have been turned upside down too, for better or worse,” Mike Snyder said. “There’s not an apology, but there’s an acknowledgement. So, if that’s the best it is, that’s the best It is.”

In the first criminal investigation, Mike Snyder’s sister testified about their Dad’s final months. He said they’re not sure yet what role they’ll play in the expected trial against Lyon and Wells.

Attorneys for Nick Lyon issued this statement Thursday after their clients arraignment:

Today our client, Nick Lyon, and his family learned that once again he has been charged by the Attorney General’s office with serious offenses stemming from the switch in Flint’s municipal water supply almost seven years ago. Our hearts go out to Flint citizens who have endured the fallout from that decision. But it does not help the people of Flint – or our criminal justice system – for the State to charge innocent people with crimes. Mr. Lyon is innocent. He did not make the decision to switch the water supply and had nothing to do with handling the water. Everything he did as director of the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) he did based on the advice of highly trained epidemiologists and public health scientists and experts who themselves were looking at the science and following the data. It’s apparent that once again, the Attorney General has ignored the facts and the evidence. This is a dangerous day for state employees.

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