Last Saturday morning, shortly before 3a.m., an intoxicated Jennifer N. Kessler, of Arden, drove her vehicle the wrong way on Interstate 240 in Asheville. As Kessler neared the Brevard Road exit, her vehicle collided head-on into a vehicle operated by Mandie Kirkconnell, 29, of Asheville. Kessler suffered serious injuries, but Ms. Kirkconnell died at the scene. This is the second wrong way collision in Asheville this year.

As a result, authorities have charged Kessler with felony death by vehicle, driving while impaired and reckless driving to endanger. She faces prison time for what she did.

Kirkconnell was a remarkable woman who positively touched every person with whom she came in contact. A devout Christian and a talented musician with an incredible voice, Ms. Kirkconnell was very active in her church at King of Glory Christian Church in Swannanoa as well as at many other churches in the Asheville area, including Relate Church and the Melchizadek House of Prayer.

Kirkconnell’s friends say that in light of her strong faith and belief in the healing power of the love of Christ, she would want everyone to forgive Kessler for her horrible mistake in judgment. A tall order for even those with a strong faith. Those who knew her were clearly blessed if but for the short time she was here.

King of Glory Christian Church has set up a memorial fund to help pay for Kirkconnell’s funeral, for the costs of transportation of her family from Arizona and California, and to help get her dog Woody and the rest of her belongings back to Arizona.

Financial help is needed, and you may donate to her memorial fund by writing a check to “King of Glory Christian Church” with “Mandie Memorial Fund” in the memo line and sent to:

King of Glory Christian Church 218 Patton Cove Road P O Box 365 Swannanoa, NC 28778
One additional source of funds for Kirkconnell’s estate would be to make a wrongful death insurance claim against Kessler and her car insurance company. In North Carolina, the law requires that each driver maintain at least $30,000.00 in car insurance, and those who understand the risks of not having sufficient insurance coverage purchase significantly more than the minimum limits and make sure to include coverage for uninsured drivers (UM coverage) and those who drive without enough insurance (UIM coverage).

I have previously explained why everyone in North Carolina needs to have more than the minimum limits of insurance coverage. When someone negligently or recklessly causes the death of another person, that person is legally liable for all of the harms and losses caused by their behavior.

Under the North Carolina Wrongful Death Act, the estate of a deceased person can recover compensation for many different things, including but not limited to reasonable funeral expenses, the net income of the decedent, as well as the services, care and assistance provided by the deceased person.

While money can never stop the hurt caused by a wrongful death, it can help those left behind continue forward with their lives, especially when a death creates a financial hardship on those who were dependent on the person killed.

There is a 2 year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. This means that a wrongful death claim must either be voluntarily resolved prior to the second anniversary of the death, or the estate must initiate a civil lawsuit with the 2 year period. Failing to do so will effectively bar any recovery by the deceased’s estate.