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Lompoc man pleads not guilty to federal charges connected to fatal head-on crash on Vandenberg Air Force Base

Lompoc man pleads not guilty to federal charges connected to fatal head-on crash on Vandenberg Air Force Base

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A Lompoc man on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to federal charges related to a fatal head-on collision on Vandenberg Air Force Base that killed a Santa Maria man and seriously injured his passenger, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman. 

Michael James Culligan, 29, was indicted on three counts, including 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.

Culligan's trial is scheduled to start on Sept. 1 before U.S. District Court Judge Andre Birotte Jr. at the First Street U.S. Courthouse in Los Angeles, according to U.S. Attorney spokesman Ciaran McEvoy.

Culligan remains in custody at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles after a federal judge called him a serious flight risk and issued a June 17 order calling for his detention, according to court documents. A bail amount was not set. 

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

Culligan was driving a stolen, gray 2019 Jeep in the southbound lane when he smashed head-on into the blue 2016 Lexus driven by Martinez, who was pronounced dead at the scene, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Keith Rogers. 

Culligan fled the scene before law enforcement arrived and was apprehended three hours later 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.


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The following is taken from the Lompoc Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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