Atascadero man arrested after SLO police chase ends in head-on crash

An Atascadero man led San Luis Obispo police on a chase around the city Monday afternoon before crashing head-on into another car and being taken into custody.

William James Meiborg, 44, was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and outstanding warrants after a short standoff in his vehicle on Olive Street during busy midday traffic, requiring officials to close Highway 101 on- and off-ramps.

Shortly after noon on Monday, San Luis Obispo police began receiving several reports of a man driving erratically, running stop signs and screaming at pedestrians, with blood visible in or on his car.

Initial reports came in from around the Cal Poly campus, but the driver, later identified as Meiborg, was able to elude San Luis Obispo patrol officers several times, police Lt. John Bledsoe said. Meiborg was also reported in the downtown area and around Reservoir Canyon.

Officers pursued Meiborg without lights and sirens in order to prevent escalating the situation, Bledsoe said.

“With his erratic driving and the conditions of the roadway and the heavy traffic, obviously our concern was the citizens, and we did not want people to get injured. That’s why we did not pursue him,” Bledsoe said. “When we were in the city, we did not activate our lights and sirens, we wanted him to de-escalate as soon as he could.”

CHP officers became involved in a pursuit with Meiborg, who was chased down Highway 1 and Santa Rosa Street before turning into and ultimately crashing head-on into another vehicle on Olive Street on the way to the Highway 101 on-ramp, according to police.

The two motorists allegedly hit by Meiborg suffered only minor injuries in the crash due to airbag deployment, Bledsoe said, but both were treated at local hospitals as a precaution. It was not clear Monday afternoon whether Meiborg was injured in the collision.

Meiborg initially refused to exit the disabled vehicle, and a standoff ensued, according to police.

“Eventually, after several minutes we were finally able to negotiate his way out of the vehicle safely,” Bledsoe said.

One witness at the scene told The Tribune that the driver asked officers for a soda while sitting in the disabled car. Meiborg was also photographed with a cigarette in his mouth as he was being walked away in handcuffs.

Meiborg was arrested on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, the vehicle, as well as unspecified outstanding felony warrants for his arrest, Bledsoe said.

Both the Highway 101 on- and off-ramps at Olive Street were closed off as officials processed the crash scene.

Court records show that Meiborg pleaded no contest in August to misdemeanor counts of vehicle theft, resisting an officer, and drafting bad checks.

He was not yet listed as being in custody on the San Luis Obispo County Jail website as of late Monday afternoon.

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Matt Fountain is The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s courts and investigations reporter. A San Diego native, Fountain graduated from Cal Poly’s journalism department in 2009 and cut his teeth at the San Luis Obispo New Times before joining The Tribune as a crime and breaking news reporter in 2014.