A Lompoc man on Friday pleaded guilty to a federal manslaughter charge in connection to a June 2020 fatal head-on vehicle collision on Vandenberg Air Force Base, now known as Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Michael James Culligan, 30, appeared by video conference for a hearing at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, and pleaded guilty to one charge of involuntary manslaughter, according to Ciaran McEvoy, a U.S. Attorney spokesman.
Culligan, who initially pleaded not guilty on July 7, 2020, changed his plea due to an agreement with federal prosecutors.
As a result of the agreement, Culligan will face a statutory maximum sentence of up to eight years in federal prison, according to court documents.
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 female passenger, who is also from Santa Maria, according to a U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman.
In addition, Culligan could receive three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Culligan was arrested on June 16, 2020, after the stolen 2019 Jeep Wrangler he was driving southbound on Santa Lucia Canyon Road, on base jurisdiction, smashed head-on into a blue Lexus sedan, killing its driver, 35-year-old Michael Daniel Martinez, of Santa Maria, and seriously injuring his female passenger.
Following the collision, Culligan fled the scene and was holding a drain pipe when he was apprehended by law enforcement several hours later, according to court documents.
During an interview with investigators, Culligan admitted to using drugs before driving the Jeep, according to McEvoy. The Air Force Office of Special Investigations, California Highway Patrol and Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office contributed to the investigation.
Culligan is scheduled to appear for a sentencing hearing before Judge Andre Birotte Jr. on Jan. 7 at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.