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UNC tennis player charged with DWI to return home

Posted August 18, 2008
Updated August 19, 2008

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— A University of North Carolina star tennis player charged with drunken driving in a wreck that hospitalized two fellow students will  withdraw from school this semester, his attorney said Monday.

Chris Kearney, 20, veered off the road in the 200 block of North Columbia Street early Sunday, and his sport utility vehicle hit a wall before striking two female UNC students walking on the sidewalk, police said.

Carolyn Anne Kubitschek, 21, of Asheville, and Casey Marie LeSawyer, 21, of Weaverville, were taken to UNC Hospitals with serious injuries, officials said. Each was listed in fair condition on Tuesday.

Kearney was charged with two counts of inflicting personal injury, felony hit-and-run causing personal injury and possessing a fake ID and one count each of driving while impaired and consuming alcohol under the age of 21.

His blood-alcohol reading registered 0.18, more than twice the 0.08 per se limit for intoxication in North Carolina.

Zach Strom was walking along Columbia Street when Kubitschek and LeSawyer were hit.

"The car came behind me and (was) screeching across both lanes, smashed into a wall," Strom said. "Three girls (were) walking 20 yards away, coming toward us, and (the vehicle) hits two of them and they went flying – literally flying in the air."

Three Marines who witnessed the accident then restrained the driver, who had stumbled out of the car, until police arrived, Strom said.

Kearney's parents flew in from Irvine, Calif., to attend his first court appearance Monday morning and bail him out of jail. He has withdrawn from school and will return home to California with them, said his attorney, Amos Tyndall.

Classes start Tuesday at UNC.

"They're devastated. They're very sad, and they're very concerned about the two girls who were hurt. Their thoughts and prayers are with those girls, and they're wishing – obviously wishing – he had made better choices," Tyndall said.

Kearney declined to comment as he left the Orange County Courthouse, except to mutter "I'm sorry" several times.

His next court date is set for Aug. 28.

Kearney was the Atlantic Coast Conference 2007 Freshman Player of the Year. He ranks second on the team for singles and doubles victories and was ranked third nationally among doubles players last fall.

Any UNC student charged with a felony is automatically suspended from athletics, and anyone convicted of a felony is permanently banned, university officials said.

Tennis coach Sam Paul said he hopes Kubitschek and LeSawyer recover quickly.

"Chris has been a member of our tennis program for the last two years and is a good person who has made a serious mistake," Paul said in a statement. "I talk to my players all the time about making good decisions. As coaches, we are always worried about the dangers associated with drinking and driving and with alcohol in general."

Pam Postage, who witnessed the wreck with Strom, said Kubitschek and LeSawyer seem to be recovering.

"Casey's fine. I talked to her last night for about an hour. She's joking (and) she's talking. She remembered us, so that's really amazing," Postage said.

64 Comments

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  • Local Reader Aug 19, 2008

    Semper Fi This reminds me of when the day bartender
    (ex-Marine) tackled Wendell Williams on his way to campus. Thank God for those that Stand/Stood for this country, and still do in their regular lives.

  • Timbo Aug 19, 2008

    "The state schools should automatically and permanently eject all underage drinkers. Arrested or NOT. That'd slow it down."

    Brilliant. Let's arrest speeders and take their cars. That'd slow them down.

  • YeaOh Aug 19, 2008

    The schools provide the environment for these things to occur and stand back and wait for a FELONY to do anything. The state schools should automatically and permanently eject all underage drinkers. Arrested or NOT. That'd slow it down.

  • FragmentFour Aug 19, 2008

    I've had a child killed by a drunk driver, and the only thing I can imagine that is worse than that, is having your child BE the drink driver.

    Mr. and Mrs. Kearney have my deepest sympathy - they're going through Hades with this, and will for a long, long time. I don't mean that the parents of the girls are any less worried, but there just isn't that element of having your child needlessly injuring the child of someone else.

  • superman Aug 19, 2008

    You cannot stop underage drinking or legal age drinking. You cannot stop smoking. You cannot stop gangs. You can pass all the laws until the cows come home. They will do nothing. The real problem is that people who do chose to break the law are punished severly and according to the law. Frankly I rather take my chances with the drunk drivers on the road than the huge number of people who drive while they are on their cell phone. Just about every one you see on the highway is on their cell phone. The number of drunk drivers on the road would be small in comparison to the cell phone users. Both are impaired. Some of you are opposed to drunk drivers but fail to realize the real danger on the highway and that is cell phone users. There are thousands of people on the highway who are being distracted by their cell phone.

  • plarmstrong Aug 18, 2008

    I bet he and everyone envolved wishes he had been caught by the ALE that night...Now if the judges in Orange county will do there jobs and allow students to be held accountable for there crimes.

  • Lit Aug 18, 2008

    "Kearney's parents flew in from Irvine, Calif., to attend his first court appearance Monday morning and bail him out of jail." -Article

    Never fear, Mommy and Daddy are here!!!

  • Common Sense Man Aug 18, 2008

    "A huge chunk of the money will be spent on cops to mix with students to find the underage drinkers. A few citations and word will spread. Maybe it will help some of them to stay out of trouble"

    Underage drinking will never slow down. Citations for underage drinking won't do anything to combat drunk driving.

  • onpointe Aug 18, 2008

    Resident advisors, especially in first year resident halls, should be on the front lines of a University's battle against underage drinking. Rather than just assuming everyone is going to drink, they should remind students of the University's substance abuse policies and be alert to violations.

  • rwp112 Aug 18, 2008

    My daughter moved into her dorm at UNC on Friday. Saturday morning she was telling me that her one of her suite mate's friends had gotten a citation the night before for underage drinking at a party. She said the "Policewoman" looked just like another student at the party until she showed her badge and asked for ID. Supposedly, word is that UNC has received an $800,000 grant to combat underage drinking on campus. A huge chunk of the money will be spent on cops to mix with students to find the underage drinkers. A few citations and word will spread. Maybe it will help some of them to stay out of trouble!

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