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Authorities Release Name of Airman Killed Near Vandenberg AFB

An airman fatally injured  on Highway 1 near Vandenberg Air Force Base early Monday had been been lying in the roadway when he was struck and killed by a transit bus, the California Highway Patrol said Tuesday.

Airman 1st Class Tyler M. Leidholdt, 24, who was assigned to the 30th Security Forces Squadron, died after being struck by a vehicle authorities intially suspected had left the scene. 

The incident occurred at approximately 5:30 a.m. Monday in the southbound lanes of Highway 1 near Timber Lane, the CHP said. 

"As it turned out we were convinced by the evidence that it was not a hit and run," said CHP Sgt. Gene McGary.

Further investigation revealed evidence that Leidholdt had been lying in a lane when the Santa Maria Area Transit bus, driven by Manuel Ortiz Jr., 60, of Santa Maria could not avoid hitting the man while the vehicle traveled 60 mph. 

The evidence includes video showing the man lying in the lane.

"It's pretty clear," McGary said.

On Monday,  CHP officers said they were seeking information from potential witnesses to what investigators suspected was a hit and run. 

"We just didn’t know," McGary said.

The driver of the bus remained at the scene of the incident.

The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department Coroner's Bureau will conduct an autopsy and determine whether Leidholdt was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident.

Leidholdt, who most recently lived in Lompoc, had been in the U.S. Air Force for 18 months, and had been assigned to Vandenberg since May 2017.

Memorial services will be announced at a later date, Vandenberg officials said Tuesday. 

Check back with Noozhawk for updates to this story.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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