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Investigation of fatal I-85 crash turns to bars, fake ID

Posted July 24, 2015
Updated July 26, 2015

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— Investigators say more people could be charged in a crash last weekend on Interstate 85 that killed three people.

Chandler Michael Kania, 20, of Asheboro, remains in the Orange County jail after being charged Thursday with three counts of second-degree murder in the fiery Sunday morning wreck. Kania also has been charged with three counts of felony death by motor vehicle, one count of felony serious injury by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, driving the wrong way on an interstate, careless and reckless driving, driving after consuming alcohol as a minor, possession of alcohol by a minor and having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle.

State Highway Patrol troopers say Kania, a rising junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 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. Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, was seriously injured but was released Thursday from UNC Hospitals.

Prosecutors say Kania has told investigators that he had been in Chapel Hill in the hours before the crash, and witnesses said he had been drinking in at least two bars there.

Josh Batten, an Alcohol Law Enforcement officer, said one of the agency's most pressing issues is fake IDs in towns heavily populated by college students.

“The counterfeit IDs are now being sold online, making it more difficult to track down the source,” Batten said. “To make matters worse, many people don't know the telltale signs of a fake ID.”

The state Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement is trying to determine who served the underage college student alcohol and how much. ALE agents plan to interview employees and witnesses at those bars and review available security video.

“It’s not good enough just to have a door man checking an ID, then when you go in nobody cares anymore,” Batten said. “The bartender, the server, whoever provides the alcohol where it goes from their hands to the other person, they’re the ones responsible for verifying the age of a person.”

ALE agents are also looking into where Kania got the fake identification that he gave to state troopers after the crash. Assistant Orange County District Attorney Jeff Nieman said in court Thursday that the ID was the driver's license of someone who was 21 and that Kania didn't have his own license with him.

Authorities said criminal charges could be brought against the person who gave Kania the ID or bartenders who served him.

An eyewitness saw Kania was on the wrong side of I-85 for at least 6 miles before the head-on collision. Nieman said troopers found a box of beer at the crash site and said Kania had "a strong odor of alcohol" and bloodshot eyes.

Kania is scheduled to be back in court next Monday, when his attorneys are expected to ask that his $1 million bond be reduced.

9 Comments

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  • Scooter Barrette Jul 26, 2015
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    We force the young and reckless to sneak around those who know best and are surprised when they get hurt. This man should have known how alcohol affected him, should have been comfortable enough to call someone, and should been able drink at his residence if he wanted to. But in a culture where we stress abstinence over anything and treat our adults like children, this is inevitable. Lower the drinking age, legalize and regulate dangerous drugs, and educate the population to eliminate the black market and promote freedom.

  • Norman Lewis Jul 26, 2015
    user avatar

    Fake ID's on a college campus? I'm shocked! NOT. Bars in college towns know many of their patrons are underage but defer from careful checking of ID because of the loss of money they would face. Finding which bar served him and closing it down would bring shall we say, a sobering chill to the blind eye many places turn to being diligent in ensuring all who drink there are old enough. The ALE doesn't play and this would be a good opportunity to show some teeth.

  • Anita Hipps Jul 25, 2015
    user avatar

    Here's a case from 1999 that sounds VERY similar......drunk gets into a car.....crashes into another car and kills four people. Her sentence??? 60 - 90 years without parole!! Let's see if he's handed the same justice??? http://murderpedia.org/female.M/m/marvin-melissa.htm

  • Shondon Wynn Jul 25, 2015
    user avatar

    These innocent lives that are lost cannot post bond from beyond the grave to come back and say goodbye to the loved ones that lost them. This young man must face the consequences of his decisions. He chose to obtain a fake id, drive his vehicle while drunk and then give the fake id to the police. He could have had a friend drive him around while he drank using his fake id. He would still be breaking the law but no one would be dead. He also could have used the education he has now squandered to realize he was making bad decisions. Let him sit in his cell and realize that even though he has lost a lot, he still has not lost as much as the lives he took. I pray this young man can find peace and accept responsibility for what he has done and maybe his story will prevent someone else from making the same mistake.

  • Patrick Murphy Jul 25, 2015
    user avatar

    Why on earth should his bond not be reduced? Do you really think he's going to drive drunk again after all this? Do you think he's going to abscond? I know he's done a lot of damage, but he hasn't been convicted yet and has a right to bond.

  • Sherrill Craig Jul 24, 2015
    user avatar

    lower a bond for a triple homicide...Yeah, homicide. He knowingly got in the car and killed those people. what a disgrace.

  • Derril Salter Jul 24, 2015
    user avatar

    There is no way to deny guilt. And...he will drag some into the mire with him it seems.

  • John Banks Jul 24, 2015
    user avatar

    Bond reduced??? SERIOUSLY??? He MURDERED 3 people. And for those that say it wasn't murder..... HE choose to drink.... HE choose to drive. So YES, It was MURDER. Make an example out of him. Put him in jail and throw away the key.

  • Joel Rado Jul 24, 2015
    user avatar

    His bond should not be reduced. He committed a horrific crime by his actions and he should sit in jail until his trial comes up. I would not want this individual on the streets. He insisted on driving even though he was told not to be behind the wheel of the vehicle. Then he presented the police with a false ID. I would not give him any slack.