Driver in Kannapolis crash that killed teen passenger charged

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Police said the teenage driver involved in a crash last week that killed his passenger is out of the hospital and in custody, but the investigation into the wreck is far from over.

Investigators believe speed and alcohol were factors in the wreck that killed 16-year-old Antonio Meadows Jr. in Kannapolis the morning before Thanksgiving.

The crash happened just before 1 a.m. on Rogers Lake Road at Dale Earnhardt Boulevard.

Police said the driver, Demauree Crowder, who is also 16, went off the road and hit a tree in front of a church.

Meadows was pronounced dead at the scene. Crowder was hurt in the crash and taken to Atrium Health Cabarrus for treatment.

Police told Channel 9 they think Crowder was drunk and speeding before he slammed into the tree. Now that he is out of the hospital and in police custody, Alcohol Law Enforcement agents want to speak to Crowder and find out how he was able to get his hands on alcohol.

"We have some indication that there could have been a party involved, but we don’t know if it was at some ABC licensed business, or if it was a house party, or some other underground type of party. We’re still trying to determine if it's true or not,” said Omar Qureshi, special agent in charge, ALE Division.

If an adult was involved that person could be charged with a misdemeanor.

"If we can find the source of the alcohol and there wasn't a fake ID used, they knowingly provided a sanctuary or some type of assistance for them to possess or consume alcohol, we would criminally charge and arrest those people involved," said Omar Gureshi, ALE special agent in charge.

Kannapolis police told Channel 9 they charged Crowder with felony death by vehicle, DWI and reckless driving.

Sheriff's office using grant funds to curb deadly crashes

Cabarrus County Sheriff Van Shaw said his department was recently awarded a $300,000 grant aimed at preventing crashes like this, especially among teens.

"There’s no doubt we need to focus to prevent that tragic loss of life. One of the reasons that we’re targeting that group specifically is because Cabarrus County ranks 11th in North Carolina with young driver crashes," Shaw said.

Shaw said two deputies are assigned to this unit. He said money pays for new vehicles and traffic safety equipment.

They'll work to identify high crash intersections, particularly ones where teens have crashed.

They'll also set up DWI checkpoints and focus on education.

"We’re going to be specifically targeting young drivers four times a year for three years -- alcohol-related issues as far as driving, seat belt use and distracted driving," Shaw said.

This is an ongoing investigation. Check back with wsoctv.com for more information.