Pflueger turns himself in on manslaughter charges


POSTED: Tuesday, November 25, 2008

KAPAA, Kauai » Ka Loko Dam owner James Pflueger turned himself in to state sheriffs yesterday after being indicted on manslaughter charges last week relating to the deadly 2006 dam breach on Kauai.

Pflueger, 82, did not spend any time behind bars, according to state public safety officials. He was processed and posted $71,000 bail in a little more than an hour.

Longtime friend Duane “;Dog”; Chapman, owner of Da Kine Bail Bonds and star of the TV show “;Dog the Bounty Hunter,”; posted bail for Pflueger and accompanied him to Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu yesterday.

“;Signing our name on the dotted line was the smallest thing we could do for him,”; said Beth Chapman, Duane Chapman's wife. “;My husband knows what it feels like for being falsely accused of a crime.

“;This is just a very terrible tragedy, and we just wanted to show our support, not to mention it's what we do for a living,”; she said.

Pflueger is scheduled to make his first court appearance for arraignment at 8 a.m. next Tuesday on Kauai, according to the attorney general's office.

The retired auto dealer was indicted Friday on seven counts of manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment for his alleged role in the March 2006 collapse of Ka Loko Dam, which killed seven people.

Attorney General Mark Bennett said Friday that the indictment had to do with the filling in of the spillway, a safety feature that keeps water from going over the top of the dam.

During heavy rain in March 2006, according to some experts, water flowed over the top of the dam, eroded the base and caused the breach that sent roughly 400 million gallons downstream and destroyed two homes.

Pflueger has repeatedly stated he never touched the spillway, and dam experts he has hired say the earthen dam breached because it was old and unstable.

Yesterday, flanked by members of the attorney general's office, Pflueger was booked, photographed and processed at 9:45 a.m. at the Sheriff's Division Receiving Desk, located at Halawa State Prison.

He posted bond and was out by 11:15 a.m., said Louise Kim McCoy, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety.

Beth Chapman said Pflueger's health is frail, and after he was booked he was taken straight to the doctor because his heart rate, normally at 67, was at 115.

She contends Pflueger was being a good Samaritan when he tried to help a neighbor by building a road, and that “;he was never a man out to maliciously hurt anyone.”;