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Man indicted on 3 counts after fatal head-on collision on Vandenberg Air Force Base

The Visitor Control Center at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Michael Peterson)

A federal grand jury on Tuesday indicted a Lompoc man on three counts in connection to a head-on collision on Vandenberg Air Force Base that killed a Santa Maria man and seriously injured a Santa Maria woman, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman.

Michael James Culligan, 29, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, driving under the influence of narcotics causing bodily injury and hit-and-run causing death after crashing a stolen Jeep into a Lexus on Santa Lucia Canyon Road shortly before 12:30 p.m. June 15.

The crash killed 35-year-old Michael Daniel Martinez and seriously injured his passenger, a 37-year-old woman who hasn’t been identified, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

Because the incident occurred on base property, Culligan was charged federally.

During a court appearance Wednesday, Culligan did not enter a plea.

He remains in custody at Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles after a federal judge called Culligan a serious flight risk June 17 and did not set a bail amount, according to court documents.

Culligan was driving a stolen, gray 2019 Jeep in the southbound lane when he lost control and crossed over into the northbound lane, smashing head-on into the blue 2016 Lexus driven by Martinez, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Keith Rogers, who added that Martinez was pronounced dead at the scene.

Culligan fled the scene before law enforcement arrived and eluded capture for three hours until he was eventually apprehended at the Lompoc-Surf train station 1.5 miles away from the crash location.

He admitted to using drugs before driving, according to a federal complaint.

Culligan is set to appear for an arraignment July 7 in Los Angeles federal court, where he is expected to enter a plea, according to U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Ciaran McEvoy.


© 2020 Santa Maria Times