Former owner of Mid-Michigan dams says disaster was avoidable
Lee Mueller says he asked Wixom Lake Association for financial help in 2013
SAGINAW COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - For the first time since last year’s Edenville Dam disaster, the man who operated the structure is making his first public statements about the disaster.
Lee Mueller operated Boyce Hydro, the company that ran four dams that created Wixom, Sanford, Secord and Smallwood Lakes.
He is being sued by a number of property owners. The state and federal regulators have fined him $15 million.
One of those lawsuits is in Saginaw County Circuit Court, and there was a motion by his attorneys to withdraw themselves from the case. The attorneys could not be reached for comment, but Mueller said he has no attorneys at this point.
Mueller lives in Nevada, where he spoke with ABC12 News by telephone. He said he is unemployed.
Mueller said the catastrophic dam failures in May of 2020 caused so much hardship for so many families in Midland, Gladwin and Saginaw counties. But he believes it could have been prevented.
“It was a terrible situation that took place and it was completely avoidable,” he said.
When asked what he meant by that, he said that he asked the Wixom Lake Association for financial help with the Edenville Dam, but he said “they took an adversarial approach and didn’t help him out financially.”
When asked if he took any responsibility for what happened, Mueller responded by saying he said as much as he wanted to about the whole situation.
Mueller did say he no longer has an attorney working on the civil court cases he faces in Michigan. He plans to represent himself in those matters.
Attorney Lawrence Kogan said he is representing Mueller at no cost when it comes to cases in federal and bankruptcy courts.
A Wixom Lake Association board member declined to comment Monday on Mueller’s claim that the association was asked to help him and Boyce Hydro in 2013. The Four Lakes Task Force, which will operate the dams on behalf of Midland and Gladwin Counties, could not be reached for comment Monday.
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