87-year-old Jimmy Pflueger pleads no contest to felony reckless endangerment

By Nana Ohkawa
Published On: Jul 18 2013 09:49:00 PM HST

Seven years ago, 400 million gallons of downstream water took the lives of seven people. Now, the man many held accountable, took a plea deal, and could avoid jail all together.

HONOLULU -

Some 4 hundred million gallons of downstream water, seven years ago, took the lives of seven people. Now, the man many held accountable, took a plea deal, and could avoid jail altogether.

Jimmy Pflueger, 87, was charged with seven counts of manslaughter, but on Thursday he pleaded no contest to a much lesser charge, felony reckless endangerment, and the judge found him guilty on that charge. This was all part of a plea with the state.  

Attorney general David Louie said in a statement, "I am satisfied that by entering into this plea agreement Pflueger has accepted responsibility for his part in this tragedy."

On March 14 2006, the Ka Loko Dam breached releasing a flood of mud and water 40-feet-high. The raging torrent destroyed property and swept seven people to their death. A manslaughter conviction carries a 20 year prison term. In the plea deal Pflueger may get five years probation but could get one year in jail. Bruce Fehring lost his daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. He say's the consequence for Pflueger falls short.

"I had a grandson who would be 9 years old now. I have an oldest daughter who might have had other grandchildren by this time and their gone, they're gone. So, that's something we live with every day and all the other victims, we live with their loss every day.

As part of the deal, Pflueger's company, which owned the dam, pleaded guilty to seven counts of manslaughter  was fined $50,000 for each person killed.

"Really? That's all a life is worth? 50,000 dollars to a corporation that might be worth millions upon tens of millions of dollars? It seems a little bit odd to me," said Fehring.

"The only positive aspect of this and it's good for everyone around is to have closure 1621if this case proceeded to trial there could have been appeals and this could have gone on for years," said

Pflueger will be sentenced on January 23rd where the judge could impose community service, fines and up to a year in jail. The fine will be used to enhance the Department of Land and Natural Resources dam inspection and safety program.

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