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Retired auto dealer James Pflueger rejected a plea agreement Thursday on manslaughter charges for the 2006 Ka Loko dam break.
Seven years after that tragic day, the case is finally heading to trial.
It’s a relief for the father of one of the families swept away that day. But Pflueger still has the option to change his mind and take the deal — and time is ticking.
Pflueger, 87, was silent in a Kauai courtroom on Thursday. But that wasn’t the original plan.
He was expected to change his plea on charges of manslaughter for the deaths of seven people in the 2006 Ka Loko dam disaster.
Instead, he rejected the deal.
“That’s Mr. Pflueger’s prerogative of he wants to plea or not,” prosecutor and Deputy Attorney General Vince Kanemoto said.
Both sides were also mum on details of the plea agreement.
Pflueger’s attorney did speak out, saying his client is being made a scapegoat for what happened.
“I think it’s beyond doubt that the state never inspected the dams. It’s beyond doubt that the people responsible to obtain the dam and the spillway didn’t do their job,” Pflueger’s attorney Bill McCorriston said.
This case has been dragging on for years.
In March 2006, a series of heavy rainstorms forced the Ka Loko dam on Pflueger’s property in Kauai to break, sending a flood of mud and water downstream.
Aurora Fehring, Alan Dingwall, and their son Rowan were swept away and killed.
Daniel Arroyo and his pregnant fiancee, Christina Macnees, along with Wayne Rotstein, and Timothy Noonan also died.
“Hopefully justice will be done in this matter and we are sorry the wheels of justice have moved as slowly as they have, but we are happy it appears we are moving forward at this point in time,” said Bruce Fehring, father and grandfather of the victims.
Pflueger’s plea agreement is still on the table, but the state asked the judge to set a deadline for him to decide so the case doesn’t keep getting continued.
The judge set Pflueger’s case for trial in September.