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Family of Flint water Legionnaires` victim says settlement is not an apology

John Snyder has become one of the faces for the widespread devastation caused by improperly treated water, leading to criminal and civil litigation.
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 5:49 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (8/21/20) - “It’s been five years. These things have to come to an end. So, we’re just glad that it’s come to an end,” Mike Snyder said.

He lost his Dad to Legionnaires' disease 5 years ago, during the fallout of the Flint water crisis.

It’s believed John Snyder caught the bacteria while being treated at Flint’s McLaren Hospital for a minor injury.

The 83-year-old has since become one of the faces for the widespread devastation caused by improperly treated water, leading to criminal and civil litigation.

ABC12 first reported Wednesday, the state has agreed to a civil settlement worth $600-million dollars for Flint victims.

The Snyder family is ready to move forward, but still hopeful for an apology.

The Flint community first learned of John Snyder's death when his daughter took the stand in the now-dropped criminal cases against two top state health officials. They were facing charges of involuntary manslaughter. The accusation was their neglect to inform the community of the legionella outbreak led to his death.

“Hell of a guy,” Mike said of his father. “He loved life. He loved traveling. Couldn’t find anybody more personable than he was.”

The way Mike Snyder describes his father is exactly how he's portrayed in photos.

A well known appraiser in the Flint community, John Snyder retired in 2014. But, his son said he remained very active, even at 83-years-old he loved to ski.

But his son said, a possible injury from his years on the slopes landed him at McLaren Flint in 2015.

He was treated. But, just a few days after he was discharged, John Snyder was rushed back to the hospital where he passed away.

“He knew what was going on,” Mike said. “He wasn’t, he wasn’t ready to go.” And, his family wasn’t ready for him to either.

They were shocked. But, Mike said they later found out from the Genesee County Health Department their father and grandfather died of Legionnaires' disease. It's believed he contracted the bacteria during his first stay at the hospital.

“There’s always a certain degree of hey it’s, you know, God’s will,” Mike said. “Then the more that came out, then the more you just kind of go `what the Bleep`? How could this have happened?”

While he would've liked more time with his Dad, Mike is grateful for nearly 84 years with him.

He remains concerned for families with young kids who will feel the impact of the water crisis their whole lives.

“We weren’t alone in this whole thing, so you know, we don’t want it to be about us by any means. I mean, the whole situation is just so tragic and unnecessary,” Mike said.

Which is why he's pleased a settlement has finally been reached, even if it's 5 years later. But, he said, money isn't accountability or an apology.

“It’s the old, well, I didn’t know. Well, if you didn’t know, you should have known. That’s your job, end of story,” Mike said.

The Snyders have also sued McLaren Flint. The hospital, private companies, engineers and even the City of Flint are not part of the current settlement agreement. So, more money will likely be coming for Flint families.

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