Local News

Bars added to wrongful death suit in fatal I-85 crash

Posted August 31, 2015 4:42 p.m. EDT
Updated September 1, 2015 9:29 a.m. EDT

Chandler Michael Kania appears in an Orange County courtroom on July 23, 2015, to face murder charges in a crash on Interstate 85 that killed three people.

— Two Chapel Hill bars were added Monday to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the daughter of a woman killed last month in a head-on collision involving a Jeep driving the wrong way on Interstate 85.

State Highway Patrol troopers say Chandler Michael Kania, 20, of Asheboro, was driving north in the southbound lanes near the split of I-85 and Interstate 40 in Orange County on July 19 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.

Authorities said Kania used a fake ID to drink at He's Not Here and La Residence in the hours before the crash. Tests showed he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.17, which is more than twice the level at which a driver is considered impaired under North Carolina law, and that he had marijuana in his system at the time of the crash.

McGee's daughter, Deseante Jones, who is administering her estate, alleges in the amended lawsuit that the owners of the two bars were negligent in serving alcohol to someone under 21 who was visibly intoxicated. She also is seeking unspecified punitive damages against the bars' owners, contending that they "have profited monetarily from providing alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons and persons under the age of twenty-one" and haven't adequately enforced procedures among their employees to prevent underage drinking or to stop serving drunk customers.

The state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has cited both bars for violations in connection with the Kania case.

Jones' initial lawsuit sought punitive damages from Kania, alleging that his actions amounted to willful misconduct. She also alleges that Kania's parents, Michael John Kania and Stephanie Borgard Kania, were negligent because they owned the Jeep and allowed their son to drive it.

Chandler Kania is under house arrest awaiting trial on the following charges: three counts of second-degree murder, 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.