James “Jimmy” Pflueger, a prominent Hawaii car dealer who later served several months in jail for his role in the 2006 failure of Kauai’s Ko Loko dam that killed seven people, died Sunday night in Honolulu. He was 91.
He had been taken home from a hospital after suffering a stroke a few days ago, a family friend said today.
Pflueger, a descendant of Hawaiian and longtime kamaaina families with vast Hawaii land holdings, founded Pflueger Honda, which was renamed Pacific Honda after his retirement from the company.
The retired automobile dealer had a passion for cars along with other machines, and was involved with racing cars, motorcycles, boats and other vehicles.
On Kauai, where he raised cattle on land that was once part of the C. Brewer sugarcane plantation, Pflueger pleaded no-contest in 2013 to reckless endangering for his role in the seven deaths that occurred after floodwaters breached Ka Loko Dam and reservoir on his property on Kauai’s north shore.
A Kauai grand jury indicted Pflueger on seven counts of manslaughter in 2008 after allegedly filling in the dam’s spillway, which is supposed to divert water if the reservoir overflows. The dam burst from the accumulation of 40 days of near constant rain, and the release of 350 million gallons of water killed seven nearby residents.
Circuit Court Judge Randal G.B. Valenciano in 2014 sentenced Pflueger to five years of probation and imposed a seven-month jail term. Pflueger was released from incarceration in mid-2015, and at the time his lawyer, William McCorriston, said Pflueger was dealing with health issues.