‘What he took from us is irreplaceable’ Family of man killed in DUI crash in Clay County react to driver’s sentencing

A local family said they are one step closer to healing after the driver who killed their loved one on New Year’s Eve in Middleburg was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison for DUI manslaughter.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, Fabian Urioste was driving his Lincoln Navigator way above the speed limit when he ran a traffic light on Blanding Boulevard and County Road 220 West and crashed into Christian Whitaker’s driver’s side.

Whitaker, who was 28 years old, died at the hospital.

“It’s been a roller coaster of a life so far this year,” said Nancy Mullen, Whitaker’s sister.

Whitaker was delivering a pizza when the crash happened.

According to a report, troopers said Urioste smelled like alcohol and showed signs of impairment.

Urioste pleaded guilty in September, and he will spend 11 years in prison followed by four years of probation.

“He absolutely deserved life in my opinion,” Mullen said. “He took a life for a life, and you know what he took from us is irreplaceable.”

Mullen said she is hopeful to get one of FDOT’s memorial markers placed out at the location of the crash to remember her brother.

“For personal reasons, I would rather receive a phone call to have to go pick somebody up then for someone to drink and drive,” Mullen said. “And my brother’s sign that’s going to be out there, once I get the application done. I feel will be a constant reminder of that.”

Mullen also described Tuesday as closing a chapter for her and her family, and said they are very thankful to the prosecutors and organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Drivers for helping them through this past year.

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