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Man Gets 22 Years in Prison for DUI Crash that Killed Myrtle Beach Nurse

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A North Carolina man has been convicted of killing a Myrtle Beach nurse. The incident occurred during a drunken crash. He will now spend decades behind bars for his actions.

Claybon Atwater, 38, is set to serve 22 years in prison after being convicted for the crash that occured in April 2019 in North Myrtle Beach.

Donna Schnell, a 54-year-old nurse at Grand Strand Regional Medical Center, died on impact from the crash on U.S. 17. She and her husband, David, were driving a three-wheeled motorcycle at the time. David suffered multiple injuries including a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder.

Numerous witnesses said a Mercury failed to yield the right-of-way and hit the motorcycle, according to a police report. Witnesses also said a man, later identified as Atwater, was driving during the crash but switched seats with his female coworker.

The woman told the police that Atwater was the driver according to the report, and there was also a 12-year-old passenger in his car.

When the officers talked to Atwater, they could tell he was drunk because of the smell of alcohol on him. He would continuously tilt his head downwards as if he was falling asleep. Atwater was ultimately charged with felony DUI causing death and another felony DUI causing great bodily injury.

Atwater’s legal troubles extend beyond the 22-year sentence, as he is also facing a first-degree attempted murder charge in his hometown.

On Dec. 29, 2020, Burlington police went to Bella Grocery and found a man who had been shot multiple times, according to the agency. The victim has since been treated and released from the hospital. Atwater, who was free on bond from the felony DUI charges at the time, has been accused of participating in the shooting. He was later arrested in January. Any charges related to the shooting are still pending, according to Burlington Police.

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