Colleague testifies against Dr. Eden Wells in Flint water emergency case

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FLINT (WJRT) - (11/07/2017) - Did one of Michigan's top health officials know of the first Legionnaires' disease outbreak sooner than she admitted?

Dr. Eden Wells

The Michigan Attorney General's Office believes so.

Wells is facing charges of involuntary manslaughter for the death of John Snyder from Legionnaires' disease, obstruction of justice and misconduct in office. She and other defendants are accused of waiting too long to alert the public about the health risk.

One of Dr. Eden Wells' coworkers at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, Jay Fiedler, said he sat right next to the chief medical executive.

During the second day of testimony in a preliminary hearing in a Genesee County courtroom, Fiedler said he was working on trying to learn more about the first outbreak in early 2015. While he doesn't remember telling her about it, he admitted the topic would've come up in conversation that spring.

"We've known each other for a long time," Fiedler said. "We talk in the hallway, we talk in the kitchen, we talk in her office, we talk in my supervisor's office. And, we would talk about whatever it is we were working on at the time."

He said he was working the outbreak among other projects.

Fiedler said the 2014 Legionnaires' outbreak in Flint also came up in an email in October 2015.

Court records show that's when Wells told investigators she learned of it, but the Attorney General's Office is trying to prove Fiedler's statements to keep the charge of "lying to a peace office" against her.

Prosecutors also broke down the data of the Legionnaires' disease cases from 2010 to 2015. Even though the cases were more than double any other year from June to September, Fiedler said he wouldn't have notified the public just yet.

The court also heard from a supervisor with the Genesee County Health Department, who was frustrated with what he considered a lack of cooperation from the state. Jim Henry got emotional when asked why his department waited for the state to warn the public.

"I wish we had. I wish we had," Henry said. "I think our biggest failure was trusting the state of Michigan."

Wells will be back in court Wednesday for the third day of testimony in the preliminary hearing, which is for a judge to decide whether there is enough evidence to send the case to trial.

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