Key court hearing for state official in Flint water scandal

November 6, 2017

Jim Sygo, former chief deputy director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, testifies as a witness in the preliminary examination of Dr. Eden Wells, 54, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, in Genesee County District Court in downtown Flint, Mich. Wells faces charges of manslaughter, obstructing justice, lying to an investigator and misconduct in office in connection with her handling of the Flint water crisis. The water crisis has been linked to lethal outbreaks of Legionnaire's disease in Flint in 2014 and 2015. (Terray Sylvester/The Flint Journal-MLive.com via AP)

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — The daughter of an 85-year-old man who died from Legionnaires’ disease testified Monday that she would have sought health care for him outside the Flint, Michigan, area if she had known about an outbreak in 2015.

Mary Anne Tribble was the first witness at a key hearing for Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Eden Wells, who is charged with involuntary manslaughter, obstruction of justice and lying to an investigator.

A judge must decide if there’s enough evidence to send her to trial.

The state attorney general said Wells and others could have saved lives by telling the public about a Legionnaires’ outbreak in 2014-15. It wasn’t disclosed until January 2016.

Tribble said her father, John Snyder, liked to run and ski despite having a pacemaker and leukemia. She said he acquired Legionnaires’ after a short series of hospital stays and died in June 2015.

Tribble said “absolutely not” when asked if she would have taken Snyder to McLaren hospital if she had known about Legionnaires’ in the Flint area. Legionella bacteria, sometimes spread through cooling systems, were detected at the hospital.

Some experts have blamed the outbreak on Flint’s use of the Flint River for water. Nearly 100 Legionnaires’ cases, including 12 deaths, were reported in Genesee County.

Wells has denied any wrongdoing, although there’s no dispute that members of Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration knew there was a legionella problem in the Flint area long before the public was informed.

The hearing will resume Tuesday.

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