On Tuesday, March 1, The Lompoc Record reported that a Lompoc man has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter in a fatal DUI crash in 2020.
In a statement by Thom Mrozek with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, the crash happened on July 7, 2020, near the Vandenberg Space Force Base.
The defendant, 30-year-old Michael James Culligan, collided a 2019 Jeep Wrangler that had been reported stolen head-on into a 2016 Lexus Sedan, which killed the 35-year-old male driver and severely injured a 37-year-old female passenger.
Culligan crawled out the sunroof of his jeep and fled the scene of the crash, and rendered no assistance to anyone who may have been hurt in the accident.
After a three-hour search of the area involving K9 officers and a helicopter unit, Culligan was later found hiding in a drainage pipe near the Lompoc-Surf Train Station and placed under arrest.
Court documents indicate that Culligan initially pleaded not guilty to the charges of DUI, causing bodily injury or death, and hit-and-run that had been filed against him.
Through a plea deal between Culligan’s public defender and the U.S. Attorney’s Office last August, those three charges were dismissed in exchange for Culligan pleading guilty to DUI-related involuntary manslaughter.
U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Birotte Jr. sentenced Culligan to 46 months in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Axelrad wrote in a sentencing memorandum.:
“The severity and tragedy of Culligan’s conduct cannot be overstated,” “His disregard for the safety of the community was staggering. Driving a stolen car while drunk and high is the very epitome of recklessness and, sadly, Culligan’s conduct had consequences.”