Local News

Chapel Hill bar linked to fatal I-85 crash reaches new deal on liquor permits

Posted November 11, 2015 12:29 p.m. EST
Updated November 11, 2015 1:31 p.m. EST

La Residence bar in Chapel Hill

— One of two Chapel Hill bars accused of serving a 20-year-old who later was involved in a wrong-way collision on Interstate 85 that killed three people has negotiated a new penalty with state regulators.

Authorities said Chandler Michael Kania used a fake ID to drink at La Residence and He's Not Here in the early hours of July 19. A short time later, they said, he 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 Beard, 6, of Brooklyn, N.Y., were killed in the fiery wreck. Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, was seriously injured.

Toxicology tests show that Kania 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. Because Kania is underage, however, any alcohol in his system would have been illegal.

La Residence initially agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to avoid a 50-day suspension of its alcohol permits, but members of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission rejected that deal last month, saying they wanted to send a message about underage drinking.

Under the new proposal, La Residence's alcohol permits would be suspended for 50 days, starting Dec. 18, but the final 36 days of the penalty would be lifted if the bar pays a $5,000 fine by Dec. 11.

If the fine is paid on time, the 14-day suspension would end on midnight Dec. 31, meaning La Residence could start serving alcohol to ring in the new year. Also, the suspension period would fall during winter break for area college students.

The ABC Commission still has to sign off on the deal during its meeting next Wednesday.

He's Not Here couldn't reach a deal with ABC staff over the violations it faces in the case, and it has appealed to the Office of Administrative Hearings.

Kania is charged with three counts each of second-degree murder and felony death by motor vehicle and one count each of felony serious injury by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, driving left of center, obtaining alcohol by a minor and underage consumption of alcohol as a minor. A grand jury also indicted him on an aggravating factor linked to a fight he had with friends who tried to stop him from driving after drinking that night.

He is under house arrest in Asheboro awaiting trial.