LIHUE — The Kilauea property owner who was convicted for his role in the Ka Loko Dam break that killed seven people is now a free man.
James Pflueger completed seven months of home confinement on May 10, KHON2 reports.
The former Honolulu car dealer’s newfound freedom comes with a five year probation sentence.
“I don’t have anything to say,” Pflueger, who is 90, told The Garden Island by phone Friday afternoon. “The court ruled I killed seven people. What else is there to say?
“I’m a happy man. I can see with my eyes, I can eat with my own teeth. I’m a very happy man,” he added. “The deal was good for me. It’s a beautiful day.”
Pflueger pleaded no contest in July 2013 to a charge of first-degree reckless endangerment in the deaths of the victims who were drowned in 2006 when a dam on his 33-acre Kilauea property burst, unleashing a wall of water that swept them out to sea. The state had accused Pflueger of causing the breach by tampering with the dam’s spillway.
His company, Pacific 808 Properties, took responsibility for seven counts of manslaughter in a second case, resulting in a $350,000 fine and felony probation.
Pflueger was sentenced to seven months in jail on Oct. 15. He had served six weeks of his sentence when he was placed on home detention due to health complications. His reported medical history includes heart problems, cancer and arthritis.
While under house arrest, he was permitted to leave his property only for doctors visits.
Tom Hitch, whose company Kilauea Irrigation Co. owns an 18-inch pipeline that delivers water from the Ka Loko Reservoir to nearby farms, said Friday in a prepared statement that he is grateful Pflueger was convicted.
“I told Pflueger his filling in of the spillway was dangerous and he told me to mind my own business,” said Hitch.
Ka Loko is the fifth largest reservoir in the state. The dam, built in 1890, was part of Kilauea Sugar Company’s irrigation system. In later years it provided Kilauea farmers with water for their land.
On March 14, 2006, an estimated 420 million gallons of water burst out of the dam, washing away seven people — a husband, wife and their two-year-old toddler; an engaged couple; a carpenter; and a property caretaker.
Only three bodies were found.
In the lawsuit, the victims’ families said eight people were killed, not seven, because one of the victims was pregnant.