A key witness who was due to give evidence in the Flint water trials has been found dead at home, killed by bacteria from the infected water.
Karenise Westbrook was found dead at the assisted living facility she called home from Legionella bacteria found in her contaminated drinking water.
Westbrook was killed by the exact same strain of Legionnaires’ bacteria that claimed the life of Flint water victim Robert Skidmore. Skidmore died whilst in McLaren Hospital in Flint.
The Flint water crisis saw the entire region fall foul to sub-standard water and many places such as hospitals and schools were running with contaminated water that was not only not safe to drink, simply coming into contact with it was bringing children out in rashes.
Skidmore was killed by an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that occurred during the midst of the Flint water crisis during 2014-2015.
This particular outbreak claimed the lives of 12 citizens and infected a further 87. Knowing they were in hot water, the government tried their best to cover up the deaths from contamination, but they were eventually found out and the state officials responsible were brought to justice.
Westbrook’s death comes as a blow to the Flint water prosecution trial, as she was lined up to give evidence against the very problem that claimed her life.
Prosecutor Todd Flood said:
“McLaren Hospital had large amounts of iron in their hospital and even through McLaren Hospital was chlorinating and trying to figure this out, and was trying to make something of it, there was too much bacteria coming through the system,”
Flint Governor Rick Snyder is one of the main culprits that the angry residents are planning on bringing to justice. So far he has ducked out of the limelight and refused to mention the Legionnaires’ crisis for over a year.
He even went as far as claiming that Flint’s water was perfectly safe to drink and that he believed his own words so much that he pledged to drink Flint water every day for a month, despite flying out of the country just a week after making this claim.
Other members of the Flint authorities who are being charged include:
- Busch, the District 8 water supervisor, is facing four felony and two misdemeanor charges, including involuntary manslaughter.
- Prysby, a District 8 water engineer, is facing the same charges.
- Cook, a specialist in the department’s community drinking water unit, is facing two felonies and one misdemeanor charge.
- Shekter-Smith, the former chief of drinking water and municipal assistance, is facing two felonies and one misdemeanor charge, including involuntary manslaughter.