HCS teacher charged with felony DUI in deadly Carolina Forest crash has history of DUI arrests

Grand Strand

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — A 52-year-old math teacher from Myrtle Beach charged with felony DUI after a deadly two-car crash Monday night on Carolina Forest Boulevard has a history of DUI arrests and other traffic violations, according to documents News13 obtained from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol charged Michael Norman Oerther, 52, with felony driving under the influence resulting in death after the crash that killed 27-year-old Leza Watts, a resident of the Carolina Forest area and former Coastal Carolina University student.

The records obtained by News13 on Wednesday night show Oerther was previously arrested for DUI three times; once in 2005, again in 2009, and once more in 2011. He’s also faced a number of other charges, including driving under suspension, driving without a license, and use of a vehicle without permission.

Oerther was given a $40,000 bond for the felony DUI resulting in a death charge and booked into the J. Reuben Long Detention Center. He was released to home detention on Wednesday, jail records show.

A spokeswoman for Horry County Schools confirmed Tuesday night that Oerther is a math teacher at Ocean Bay Middle School and that he had been placed on administrative leave as of Tuesday.

The crash happened about 9:30 p.m. Monday at Stafford Drive near the Horry County Memorial Library and the Carolina Forest Rec Center in Carolina Forest.

According to the SCHP, Oerther’s Jeep was headed west on Carolina Forest Boulevard when it hit the rear of a Honda that was stopped in the roadway at a traffic light. A rear-seat passenger, one of three people in the Honda, died in the collision, troopers said.

Oerther was taken to the hospital and treated for injuries before he was arrested and taken to jail, troopers said.

SCHP and the Multi-disciplinary Accident Investigation Team are investigating. News13 was the first media outlet to report the crash and arrest. Count on News13 for updates.

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