Crime & Courts

Driver charged with killing pastor has two DWI convictions

Pastor Michael Vanderburg
Pastor Michael Vanderburg Abundant Life Church of God

A Caldwell County pastor who grew up in Charlotte died Tuesday when a man with two DWI convictions ran a red light on U.S. 70 near Conover and hit the pastor’s minivan, authorities said.

Michael Howard Vanderburg, 43, was a father of three and pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in Hudson. Several of his family members also were in the minivan and were taken to a hospital. Their conditions were unavailable Wednesday.

The State Highway Patrol charged Zachariah Arthur Carl, 31, of Newton, with second-degree murder, driving while impaired, failure to stop for a steady red light, possession of an open container of alcohol and driving with a license that was revoked for the DWI convictions.

Carl was jailed on $1 million bail, Catawba County jail records show. Carl made a first appearance in Catawba County District Court on Wednesday and was given a Dec. 16 probable cause hearing date.

Carl served no prison time on his two DWI convictions, public records show.

He was found guilty of driving while impaired in Catawba County in July 2011 and in Caldwell County in August 2015, records show. He served community service and paid fines for the 2011 conviction and 18 months probation for the 2015 conviction, according to public records.

When he was arrested on the 2011 DWI charge, Carl’s blood/alcohol content registered 0.16, two times the legal limit for driving, court records show. When he was stopped and charged with DWI in 2015, his blood/alcohol content registered 0.27, more than three times the legal limit, according to court records.

Vanderburg graduated from Independence High in Charlotte in 1991 and from UNC Charlotte in 1996, according to his Facebook page.

His wife, Ashley, posted on the church’s Facebook page that she has read “every single message and comment and text you have sent. I haven’t been able to personally thank you but know that you are all a comfort to me.”

The family will receive friends at 5:30 p.m. Friday at the church, Ashley Vanderburg said. Her husband’s celebration of life service will be 10 a.m. Saturday, also at the church.

The church canceled its regular Wednesday night service but said its doors will be open at 7 p.m. for people to pray for the family. The church is in the 300 block of Cedar Valley Road, off U.S. 321.

“The family is asking that if you bring food, to drop it off and only stay a few minutes if possible,” the church said on Facebook. “This has been a horrible shock to the family and they are asking for some time to process it. Thank you so much for your consideration and your outpouring of support.”

Staff researcher Maria David contributed.

Joe Marusak: 704-358-5067, @jmarusak