Deadly DWI crash resonates among Chapel Hill bar employees
Posted February 12, 2016
Chapel Hill, N.C. — A popular Chapel Hill bar, He's Not Here, won't be serving this weekend. The establishment is closed for three weeks, part of a punishment for serving 20-year-old Chandler Kania, who stands accused of the deaths of three people in a drunk driving collision.
According to police reports, Kania drank at He's Not Here, at 112½ Franklin St., and La Residence, at 202 W. Rosemary St., on July 19 using the driver's license of an older fraternity brother. A few hours later, North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers say, Kania was driving north in the southbound lanes near the split of I-85 and Interstate 40 in Orange County when his Jeep Wrangler collided with a Suzuki driven by Felecia Harris.
Harris, 49, of Charlotte, her friend Darlene McGee, 46, of Charlotte, and Harris' granddaughter Jahnice Baird, 6, of Brooklyn, N.Y., were killed in the fiery wreck.
The aftermath of the crash has rippled through the Chapel Hill community, drawing more attention to underage drinking and proper alcohol sales and service.
Guy Murphy, general manager of Top of the Hill, a restaurant and brewery in Chapel Hill, said the increased scrutiny is welcome. "The police and some of the authorities have made it clear and maybe have been a little more intense, which I think is absolutely justified to make sure every bar, including ourselves, falls into line of the law," he said.
The town has seen a surge of enrollment in classes that educate employees of local bars and restaurants in how to spot fake IDs and how to stop sales to underage or intoxicated patrons.
"We have had a 40 percent increase in bars training and 17 percent increase in the numbers of employees trained," said Chapel Hill Sgt. Mike Mineer.
Murphy said his staff attended a seminar in November hosted by the North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.
Meg McGurk, executive director of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, says the training is crucial in a college town like Chapel Hill. She says bars have to balance making a profit and keeping all patrons safe.
"Bars and restaurants know the importance of alcohol sales to their businesses, but it's only as important, it's only good if it's to the right people," she said.
Kania's roommate told ALE agents that Kania routinely drank at La Residence and had used the fake ID for at least a month. In a search of Kania's car, ALE agents found a $14 receipt for Kania from He's Not Here, and a friend of Kania's said the bar staff there didn't check his ID before serving him that night, although the ID was checked at the door.
La Residence, also saw its license suspended. Both bars paid a $5,000 fine.