A.G. man arrested after high-speed chase Sunday that ended with head-on collision in Santa Maria

clambert@thetribunenews.comFebruary 4, 2013 

An Arroyo Grande man was arrested Sunday after leading a CHP officer on a high-speed chase from Nipomo into Santa Maria, hitting several other vehicles in the process, according to a CHP news release.

Juan Benitez, 21, was taken into custody following the 3:20 p.m. incident. He suffered moderate injuries and was transported to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment.

The CHP said charges are pending, but more information about the possible charges was not immediately available.

A CHP officer from the agency’s San Luis Obispo office, identified in the news release as M. Poelking, spotted Benitez driving a stolen Chevrolet Colorado pickup south on Highway 101 in Nipomo and attempted to stop him.

Instead, the CHP said, Benitez drove at high speeds down the highway toward Santa Maria, taking the Broadway offramp into the city.

Benitez reportedly sideswiped four vehicles and collided head-on with a Mazda 626 at Donovan Road. Three of the Mazda’s four occupants, all Santa Maria residents, suffered moderate injuries. A 2-year-old was fastened in a child safety seat and was not hurt.

Claudio Ramirez, 22, the driver of the Mazda, and 19-year-old Erica Martinez were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital; 20-year-old Hector Ramirez was taken to Marian.

Poelking then took Benitez into custody. The incident closed one block of Broadway at Donovan Road for about two hours.

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