Pflueger completes prison sentence - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Pflueger completes prison sentence

File photo of James Pflueger, taken in 2013. File photo of James Pflueger, taken in 2013.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After serving seven months mostly under house arrest, Jimmy Pflueger is a free man.

The 89-year-old car dealer was freed last Friday, bringing closure to his role in the deadly Ka Loko Dam disaster nearly a decade ago.

"His sentence was so light, it was worse than no sentence at all," said Tom Hitch, a Kilauea resident, who said he warned Pflueger many times about overfilling the dam.

"If it was my daughter that died, I'd rather he got nothing than such ... a blatantly insulting sentence, a thousand dollars and house arrest for every person he killed."

It was one of Hawaii's deadliest disasters. After several days of heavy rains, the Ka Loko Dam breached on March 14, 2006, unleashing 400-million gallons of water. Seven people were killed.

State prosecutors accused Pflueger of manslaughter for filling in a concrete spillway that was supposed to prevent the Ka Loko Reservoir from overfilling.

His attorney said others are also to blame, including Hitch whose company was supposed to maintain the Ka Loko Dam.

"I think it's beyond doubt that the state never inspected the dams,"  lawyer Bill McCorriston said in 2013.

"It's beyond doubt that the people responsible for maintaining the dam and the spillway didn't do their job. It's indisputable that people were living in the flood zone without building permits and illegally,"

But Hitch said that Pflueger didn't allow him on the property after 1999 and threatened him with trespassing charges if he did. Hitch said it Pflueger or one of his employees who filled in the spillway.

"I told Pflueger his filling in the spillway was dangerous and he told me to mind my own business. So I turned him into the county of Kauai," Hitch said.

"Then after the breach, he had the audacity to blame me, saying I did not go up there to control the reservoir height."

Pflueger and various landowners on Kauai have paid more than $25 million in civil judgments relating to the deadly dam collapse.

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