Crime & Courts

Man must keep picture of pastor he killed while serving 15 years in prison

Pastor Michael Vanderburg
Pastor Michael Vanderburg Charlotte Observer file photo

A Newton man was ordered to keep a picture of the pastor he killed in an alcohol-fueled wreck while he spends the next 15 years in prison.

Michael Vanderburg, the 43-year-old pastor of Abundant Life Church of God in Hudson, died after his minivan was hit on N.C. 70 near Conover in Catawba County in December.

Zachariah Carl, 32, ran a red light before hitting Vanderburg, the Catawba County District Attorney’s office said. Carl had a blood-alcohol level of .28, more than three times the legal limit for driving in North Carolina, prosecutors said.

“I can never express in words how deeply sorry I am for what happened on Dec. 6,” Carl told a judge before he was sentenced on Monday, according to the district attorney’s office. “That evening will forever haunt me. I stand before you here today ready to accept responsibility for my actions.”

Carl pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, driving while impaired, possession of an open container of alcohol and driving with license revoked, impaired revocation.

Zachariah Carl (1)
Zachariah Carl Catawba County District Attorney’s Office

“I’d never wish this pain on anyone,” Vanderburg’s widow, Ashley, told the judge. “We struggle to find a new normal when all we want is the old normal. I don’t want people to forget how much he meant to us.”

Joe Marusak