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Lompoc man pleads guilty to manslaughter after fatal hit-and-run near Vandenberg SFB

The driver of a Jeep was arrested after fleeing the scene of a deadly hit and run
The driver of a Jeep was arrested after fleeing the scene of a deadly hit and run

LOMPOC, Calif. - A Lompoc man pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter on Friday after being involved in a fatal hit-and-run crash near Vandenberg Space Force Base in June.

30-year-old Michael James Culligan reportedly drove a stolen 2019 Jeep Wrangler on Vandenberg SFB property on June 16 around 12:30 p.m.

After veering onto the right shoulder, Culligan reportedly swerved into oncoming traffic and crashed head-on with a blue Lexus sedan. The driver of the Lexus died and his passenger was seriously injured.

After crashing, Culligan allegedly climbed out through the Jeep's sunroof and fled the scene. He was reportedly under the influence of drugs at the time of the crash.

California Highway Patrol officers and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's deputies began searching for Culligan with a helicopter and K9 units. About three hours later, Culligan was arrested at a nearby train station, about a mile and a half from the crash.

He has been in federal custody.

Culligan's sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 7, 2022, with United States District Judge André Birotte Jr.

Culligan faces a statutory maximum sentence of eight years in federal prison.

The United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations investigated this incident with assistance from California Highway Patrol and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Santa Maria - Lompoc - North County
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Jessica Brest

Jessica Brest is a digital journalist and assignment editor for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Jessica, click here.


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