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Lompoc man charged in deadly crash near Vandenberg Air Force Base

Fatal crash Santa Lucia Canyon .jpg
Posted at 4:11 PM, Jun 17, 2020

A Lompoc man who officers say wasunder the influence and ran off after causing a deadly crash in a stolen Jeep near Vandenberg Air Force Base this week has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Michael James Culligan was arrested about three hours after the crash Wednesday afternoon on Santa Lucia Canyon Road and taken into federal custody since the collision happened on base property.

The U.S. Attorney's office says the 29-year-old was expected to make his first court appearance Wednesday afternoon.

The California Highway Patrol says Culligan, for unknown reasons, crossed into head-on traffic and crashed head-on into an oncoming Lexus sedan.

The driver of the Lexus, a 35-year-old man from Santa Maria, was pronounced dead on scene. His passenger, identified as a 37-year-old woman from Santa Maria, was flown to the hospital with major injuries.

"From the Jeep, law enforcement allegedly recovered empty alcoholic beverage containers and Culligan's California identification card. Law enforcement also determined that the Jeep had been reported stolen and that the Jeep's license plates belonged to a different car," according to a press release, which states Culligan admitted to causing the crash and running away and also said he used drugs prior to driving.

An eyewitness told investigators it appeared Culligan had lost control when he went into oncoming traffic.

Culligan was found about 1.5 miles from the crash site at a nearby train station, officials said.

If convicted, he could face a maximum sentence of eight years in federal prison.