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Flint water crisis hero defends state official charged in connection with crisis

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

A key figure in exposing Flint’s water crisis vigorously defended one of the state officials criminally charged in the crisis in a Genesee County courtroom Tuesday.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha’s research revealed elevated blood lead levels in Flint children in 2015. The study came after residents had complained for more than a year about the quality of the city’s water after its source was switched to the Flint River. 

But state officials initially attacked the study and tried to dismiss it.

On the stand, Hanna-Attisha credited Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive, Eden Wells, with getting the state health department to “change course” and accept her data.

“I believe she listened to me and got the state to relook at their lead data,” Dr. Hanna-Attisha testified.

She describes Wells as “professional and responsive.”

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha was called as a witness for the defense in Wells’ preliminary exam.

Wells is charged with obstruction of justice and lying to a peace officer as part of the Flint water crisis investigation.

Special Counsel Todd Flood pressed the Hurley pediatrician for more than an hour, trying to link Wells to efforts in the state health department to downplay Flint’s water crisis. But Hanna-Attisha instead singled out Nick Lyon, director the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. 

Lyon also faces charges in connection with the Flint water crisis.

Both Lyon and Well’s preliminary exams are expected to wrap up soon.

After that, a judge overseeing each case will decide if there is enough evidence to warrant sending them to trial.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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