Man drank alcohol, sped in wrong direction before killing 21-year-old in crash, cops say

Carlos Varas
Carlos Varas

The man who deputies say caused a fatal head-on wreck in Broward more than a year ago was going nearly 80 miles an hour in the wrong direction on South Federal Highway and “had consumed alcohol at multiple establishments throughout the night,” according to an arrest report.

Carlos, Varas, 39, was arrested Thursday and being held without bond on charges including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and reckless driving.

On July 25, 2018, Varas was driving a Chrysler Town & Country north in the southbound lanes of South Federal Highway near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport at about 4 a.m. when he crashed into a Honda Civic being driven by 21-year-old Adam Abdou-Essa, the Broward Sheriff’s Office said at the time. Abdou-Essa and a friend he was driving home were rushed to nearby hospitals. Varas was also taken to the hospital as a precaution.

Abdou-Essa died nearly a week later. In a GoFundMe page created after the crash, his family described him as having a “huge, amazing heart.” His sister wrote in the post that her brother, who was excited to go to the University of Florida and become an anesthesiologist, “fought hard for his life, and we prayed for his recovery, however that is not what was in store for us.”

At the time, BSO said it was conducting a preliminary DUI investigation, but no charges were immediately filed.

BSO said the friend, who was not named, was critically injured and has since recovered after “extensive medical treatment.”

A warrant was issued for Varas’ arrest in September. He was taken into custody Thursday, records show.

According to the arrest report, Varas was “traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of South Federal Highway at 76 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone, traveling the wrong way on a divided highway.”

“The defendant’s operation of the vehicle traveling at well above the posted speed limit while traveling the wrong way did constitute as reckless driving, displaying a wanton disregard for the safety of others,” a detective wrote in the arrest report.

A detective also said in the report that Varas’ blood alcohol concentration was “in excess of .080 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood and was presumed to have his normal faculties impaired while in operation of the above listed vehicle.” Florida’s legal limit is .08.

It was not clear when Varas’ blood sample was taken or what his exact level was, though police say his level was “established by a combination of medical records and blood drawn pursuant to a search warrant.”

Carli Teproff grew up in Northeast Miami-Dade and graduated from Florida International University in 2003. She became a full-time reporter for the Miami Herald in 2005 and now covers breaking news.