Lompoc Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter for Fatal Car Crash

Michael James Culligan, 30, Drove Stolen Vehicle While Under Influence of Drugs, Killing One Driver and Injuring a Passenger

Rescue personnel work at the scene of the crash on Santa Lucia Canyon Road, where a Santa Maria man died June 16, 2020. | Credit: Len Wood/Santa Maria Times

A Lompoc resident pleaded guilty Friday to federal manslaughter for crashing a stolen vehicle while under the influence of drugs, killing one motorist and severely injuring another, near the Vandenberg Air Force Base, now known as Vandenberg Space Force Base.

On June 16, 2020, Michael James Culligan, 30, drove a stolen vehicle onto Vandenberg property and swerved into an oncoming traffic lane, colliding with another vehicle, which resulted in the death of the driver — 35-year-old Michael Daniel Martinez of Santa Maria — and serious injury to the female passenger, according to ​​Ciaran McEvoy, public information officer for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Culligan fled the scene and was later caught by law enforcement, hiding in a drainpipe. 

Culligan admitted in the post-arrest interview to being under the influence of drugs, and has been in federal custody since June 2020. The sentencing hearing will take place on January 7, 2022, and Culligan faces a statutory maximum sentence of eight years in federal prison.

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