Chapel Hill bars linked to deadly crash deny fault in accident

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Two Chapel Hill bars linked to a deadly crash in Orange County deny any fault in the accident.

The businesses “La Residence” and “He’s Not Here” have been cited with multiple violations after former UNC student Chandler Kania and his friends were allowed in the bars despite being underage the night of the crash.

Investigators say Kania, 20, and his friends drank alcohol at the bars. After leaving the establishments, Kania is accused of driving drunk and causing the triple-fatal wrong way crash, which included a 6-year-old girl.

Chandler Kania
PHOTOS: Former UNC student Chandler Kania in crash

Both businesses face strict punishments by the ABC Commission. On Thursday, the commission rejected the proposed settlement with “La Residence.” The commission said the $5,000 fine or a 50-day suspension was not a strong enough punishment for the Chapel Hill bar. The commission has recommended “He’s Not Here” lose their alcohol permits.

The attorneys representing “He’s Not Here” tell WNCN their client did not violate any ABC laws the night of the crash.

“Each and every person who purchased or consumed alcohol from He’s Not Here produced identification confirming they were of legal age,” said William J. Thomas and Jay Ferguson in a statement. “Subsequent investigation revealed the identifications used by Mr. Kania and others in his party were fraudulent. The identifications all appeared to be valid and were accepted at other businesses as well.”

Kania and his friends used ID’s of fraternity brothers who were older than 21 to get into the bars that night, documents show.

Attorney Syd Alexander, who is representing La Residence, says one of Kania’s friends was able to buy alcohol at the bar, but there’s no evidence of Kania buying alcohol at his client’s restaurant.

“There’s a question initially of proof, what was going on with these kids, where and when, and how they had access to things,” said Alexander. “I think just to go after the bars without going into the details is irresponsible.”

Alexander said the well-known bar and restaurant would not be in danger of closing down if the alcohol permits were suspended. But he said it would have an impact on special events hosted at La Residence like dinners and wedding events.

“It’s a very busy time when school is in session, so a suspension would be quite significant,” said Alexander. “It doesn’t shut down the restaurant, they can still operate, but in a very different fashion than they normally do.”

He hopes to have a new agreement negotiated before the ABC Commission’s next board meeting on Nov. 18.

If “He’s Not Here” ends up losing their alcohol permits, it would essentially put them out of business. The ABC commission has not received a signed Offer in Compromise from the business. The case will likely be heard by an administrative law judge, but the judge’s calendar has not yet been set. The attorney for “He’s Not Here” declined to comment on the status of the Offer in Compromise.

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