RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Chapel Hill bar linked to a deadly crash on Interstate 85 involving a University of North Carolina student last summer will lose its alcohol license for 21 days beginning Feb. 12, the ABC Commission decided Wednesday.
“He’s Not Here” has also agreed to pay a $5,000 fine to avoid a 30-day suspension. The bar is also penalized $10,000 fine for past violations.
He’s Not Here was one of two bars cited with multiple violations after former UNC student Chandler Kania and his friends were allowed in the bars despite being underage the night of a triple-fatal 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.
Kania drove his Jeep Wrangler northbound in the southbound lanes on I-85 and slammed into a Suzuki sedan driven by Felecia Harris, 49, of Charlotte, who died, authorities said. 6-year-old Jahnice Beard and 46-year-old Darlene McGee were also killed in the crash.
The attorney for Beard’s family says they do not believe the punishment for He’s Not Here is not strong enough.
“I don’t think anyone who has lost a loved one would be satisfied that that’s adequate punishment,” said Charlotte-based attorney Charles Monnett. “I would certainly have liked a higher fine, I understand the law does not permit that, but I think the law should and I think a longer suspension would be appropriate. I’d like to see 60 or 90 days at the minimum.”
He’s Not Here reached an agreement with the commission on a 30-day suspension beginning on Feb. 12. The last nine days of the suspension may be avoided if He’s Not Here pays a $5,000 fine on or before Feb. 5.
The ABC Commission had previously recommended He’s Not Here lose all of their alcohol licenses, essentially putting them out of business. The two sides were able to reach an agreement just two weeks before the matter was expected to go in front of a judge.
ABC Commission Chairman Jim Gardner says he reluctantly approved the punishment, pointing out a judge may have handed down a softer penalty.
“We always have to make the decision of whether we can win the case,” said Gardner. “Before we thought we could have, but the judgement this time was that this was the best we could do.”
Gardner says it’s something the he hopes He’s Not Here takes seriously because one more violation and the bar will most likely have their license revoked.
“They better not come back before us again and I hope they clearly understand that,” said Gardner.
In Nov. 2015, the ABC Commission approved its punishment for La Residence, the second bar linked to a deadly July 2015 crash. La Residence was given a 50-day suspension of its alcohol license or a 14-day suspension and a $5,000 fine, which the bar’s attorney said the business would pay.
The attorney for He’s Not Here declined to comment on the suspension.