Middleburg man charged in New Year’s Eve crash that killed pizza delivery driver

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. – A 40-year-old Middleburg man is facing manslaughter charges after a fatal New Year’s Eve crash, according to an arrest report obtained by News4JAX.

Christian Whitaker, 28, who is a pizza delivery driver, was the victim of the Dec. 31 crash in Middleburg, the arrest report said. He was killed after being hit by Fabian Urioste, who was speeding, according to Florida Highway Patrol troopers.

The arrest report said the incident occurred just before 9 p.m. Urioste was driving a Lincoln Navigator well above the 35 mph speed limit on State Road 21 — also known as Blanding Boulevard — when he sped through a red light and crashed into the driver’s side of Whitaker’s Nissan Sentra.

Whitaker died at the hospital. Whittaker’s sister, Nancy Mullen, said she never imagined she’d lose her brother at such a young age.

“He was an amazing brother. He has a lot of people who absolutely love him,” Mullen said. “He was out on a delivery for pizza because he worked at Five Start and that night ended his life.”

In Urioste’s interview with authorities, Troopers said his speech was slurred. He told Troopers that he was leaving a friend’s house and was headed home. He believed the speed limit was 45 mph on SR 21 and thought he had a green light. Then, he insisted that Whitaker’s vehicle collided with his, according to the report.

He also told troopers that his brakes were worn and needed to be replaced, the arrest report said.

Troopers said Urioste smelled of alcohol and showed signs of impairment, but he told troopers he wasn’t under the influence and hadn’t taken any medications -- but did mention that he “may have marijuana in his system.”

Fabian Urioste was arrested and charged with manslaughter.

Fabian Urioste is charged with manslaughter for fatal New Year's Eve crash (WJXT)

Mullen said the charge against Urioste is a shock to her since he wasn’t charged with drinking under the influence.

“I just want him to be responsible for his action. You were irresponsible,” Mullen said.

The report does not indicate if a field sobriety test was performed, but PIO Dylan Byran said blood was drawn, so Urioste could face additional charges depending on the lab results.

Mullen said she and her siblings have hired a lawyer and vowed to get justice for their brother.

“He was very attached to family and friends and made sure he gave time to everybody. So, this is definitely a tragic loss,” she said.

Urioste’s bond is set for $500,000, and his court date is Feb. 6.

About the Authors:

Khalil Maycock joined the News4JAX team in November 2022 after reporting in Des Moines, IA.