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Teen pronounced brain dead days after hit-and-run in Fort Lauderdale, family says

Philip Varsam, 28, arrested Monday for New Year's Day crash

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 19-year-old man has been declared brain dead, days after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while riding his bicycle in Fort Lauderdale, his family told Local 10 News on Wednesday.

Relatives said Alkiva Douglas will remain on life support at Broward Health North until his siblings arrive from Jamaica to say goodbye.

The accused driver, Philip Varsam, 28, was arrested Monday on a charge of leaving the scene of a crash resulting in serious injury, but he could now be facing a more serious charge.

"He deserves the punishment to be harsher," Douglas' aunt, Stephanie Wright, said. "And even though I do believe in God, I also believe in justice. And like she said, everybody has accidents, but do the right thing.

Douglas' mother told Local 10 News that her only son was declared brain dead Tuesday night.

"My only son is gone," Valda Douglas-James said. "You know, you don't hit people and just run off like that. Just flee the scene as if it's a dog or a cat."

Police said Douglas was riding his bike about 8:40 p.m. Sunday in the 6700 block of Northwest Ninth Avenue when he was struck from behind by a white Lexus driven by Varsam.

"He couldn't do anything for himself. He was just lying there," Wright said. "I mean, he's not even 20. He was just lying there. I can't imagine how you can hit somebody and just drive off and not even think about that person's life."

Douglas was taken to Broward Health North in critical condition.

Varsam appeared in court on Tuesday and was ordered held in lieu of a $30,000 bond. If he is released, he will be allowed to drive only to and from work and home.


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