Chandler Kania, from Asheboro, was charged in an Orange County courtroom Thursday afternoon with three second-degree murder charges, three counts of felony death by a motor vehicle and one count of felony serious injury by a motor vehicle.
"This case represents almost unimaginable horror and tragedy," the judge said during the hearing.
Investigators say Kania purchased and consumed alcohol before driving the wrong way down Interstate 85. In court, prosecutors say Kania gave troopers someone else's ID when he was pulled over that showed he was 21 years old.
Bond was set at $1 million. If convicted on all charges, Kania faces 40 to 50 years in prison.
PHOTOS: I-85 crash
Darlene McGee, 46, of Charlotte, her friend Felecia Harris, 49, of Charlotte, and Harris' granddaughter Jahnice Baird, 6, of Brooklyn, New York, were traveling back home when their vehicle collided with a Jeep driven by Kania, who is suspected of driving drunk. Kania was headed northbound on Interstate 85 in the southbound lane at exit 163.
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 Wednesday on behalf of the Kania family: "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.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol has charged Kania with DWI, careless and reckless driving, possession of an open container of an alcoholic beverage, possession of alcohol by a person under 21 years of age, and driving by person less than 21 years old after consuming alcohol.
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