New lawsuit filed in wrong-way crash involving former UNC student

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Lawsuit over ex-UNC students wrong-way crash expanded
Chandler Kania appears in court

HILLSBOROUGH, NC (WTVD) -- A second lawsuit has been filed in a wrong-way crash on Interstate 85 that involved a former UNC student accused of driving drunk.

The new lawsuit by Charles G. Monnet III & Associates along with Maginnis Law is on behalf of Shanice Beard - the mother of 6-year-old Jahnice Beard. The child was killed in the July 19 crash along with Darlene McGee and Felecia Harris.

Darlene McGee, Felecia Harris and Jahnice Beard
images courtesy family

"Shanice hopes that this lawsuit, and the tragic and senseless death of her only child Jahnice, will bring better awareness, both to the dangers of underage alcohol abuse and a culture on Franklin Street that appears to enable underage students to obtain alcohol," said attorney T. Shawn Howard.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol said 20-year-old Chandler Kania was headed northbound on Interstate 85 in the southbound lane at Exit 163 when he hit the women's car head on.

In addition to punitive damages allowed under North Carolina law, the lawsuit also challenges North Carolina's cap on punitive damages - saying it is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit names the same defendants in a lawsuit filed last month by Oxendine Barnes & Associates on behalf of the family of Darlene McGee.

They include Kania, his father and mother, SWDP Restaurant Group - owners of the Chapel Hill bar "He's Not Here" - and the Farrington Farm Restaurant - owners of La Residence Restaurant and Bar.

Kania, from Asheboro, is charged in Orange County with obtaining alcohol with a false driver's license, three counts of second-degree murder, three counts of felony death by a motor vehicle, and one count of felony serious injury by a motor vehicle.

Kania was released from jail after his family posted a $1 million bond. UNC Chapel Hill said last month that Kania is no longer enrolled there.

Investigators say Kania purchased and consumed alcohol before driving the wrong way down Interstate 85. In court in July, prosecutors said Kania gave troopers someone else's ID when he was pulled over that showed he was 21 years old.

Search warrants released allege Kania purchased and consumed alcohol at La Residence and He's Not Here.

If convicted on all charges, Kania faces 40 to 50 years in prison.

PHOTOS: I-85 crash

Harris' daughter, Jahnia King, 9, was also seriously hurt in the crash. She has since been released from the hospital.

Attorneys for Kania released a statement on behalf of the Kania family after the crash: "The Kania family is absolutely devastated about this tragedy. Their hearts, prayers and thoughts are with the victims and their families. Chandler is fully cooperating with law enforcement and will continue to do so."

McGee, Harris and the two children were returning from a family reunion in Virginia when the crash occurred.