Fraternity, friends among 15 new defendants to be added to Kania civil lawsuit


HILLSBOROUGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The families of the victims of a wrong-way drunk driving crash on Interstate 85 have been given permission to add 15 new defendants to the wrongful death lawsuit.

It’s another chapter in the ongoing civil battle following the 2015 crash in which former UNC student Candler Kania drove drunk and crashed into another car killing three people.

Kania crashed his Jeep Wrangler head-on into a Suzuki sedan driven by Felecia Harris, 49, of Charlotte.

Two of the three passengers in Harris’ car were also killed, including 6-year-old Jahnice Beard of Brooklyn, New York, who was seated in the backseat, and Darlene McGee, 46, of Charlotte.

Now those victims’ families are working to hold everyone who may be responsible for contributing to the deadly crash.

The families have been given permission to add Kania’s fraternity, North Carolina Delta Chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to the lawsuit, along with the eight members of the fraternity’s alumni board.

The attorneys for the victims’ families claim at the time of the crash the fraternity “had a history of allowing and encouraging underage drinking and drug use at the fraternity house.”

“The day the crash happened [Kania] drank alcohol there, he used a gravity bong to smoke marijuana and all of that contributed to his intoxication and we believe contributed to what happened and our client losing her 6-year-old little girl,” said Shawn Howard, one of the attorneys representing Jahnice Beard’s family.

The family has also received permission to add Aditya Shaw and Alexander Pugh, two of Kania’s friends who are accused of buying Kania alcohol prior to the crash, to the lawsuit.

Rebecca Greene and Kelly Lucas are also expected to be added to the lawsuit after hosting a “pre-game” party and, according to investigators, allowing Kania to drink alcohol at their apartment.

“[Kania] drank all throughout the day and I think it’s impossible to parse out which drink made him intoxicated. They all sort of contributed to him being so intoxicated that he did what he did,” said Howard. “My client wants it to be clear that everybody has a responsibility for their actions, even if it’s not criminal responsibility, there are other ways you can be held responsible.”

When the wrongful death lawsuit was first filed last year, the defendants listed were Chandler Kania, Kania’s parents and “He’s Not Here” and “La Residence”, the bars Kania, who was underage at the time, went to the night of the crash.

Kania’s parents and “He’s Not Here” have been removed from the lawsuit after the parties reached an undisclosed settlement.

The trial for the civil suits was initially scheduled for March 2017, but the cases have been continued and are scheduled to go to trial in February 2018 if settlements are not reached.

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