Three Santa Maria residents suffered moderate injuries Sunday when their car was struck head-on by a stolen pickup truck, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The crash occurred at about 3:20 p.m. on Donovan Road in Santa Maria, the CHP said.
The driver of the stolen vehicle — a 2008 Chevrolet Colorado — was identified by the CHP as Juan Benitez, 21, of Arroyo Grande.
An officer tried to stop Benitez on southbound Highway 101 in Nipomo, the CHP said, but he fled at a high rate of speed and left the freeway at the Broadway exit.
According to the CHP, Benitez sideswiped four cars before slamming head-on into a Mazda 626 driven by Claudio Ramirez, 22, of Santa Maria.
Ramirez and two passengers — Erica Martinez, 19, and Hector Ramirez, 20, both of Santa Maria — were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with moderate injuries, the CHP said.
A 2-year-old girl who also was in Ramirez’s car was sitting in a child-safety seat and was uninjured, the CHP said.
Benitez also suffered moderate injuries, and was taken to Marian Regional Medical Center, the CHP said.
A one-block section of Broadway was closed for about two hours at Donovan Road while authorities tended to the injured, cleared the wreckage and investigated, the CHP said.
Benitez was taken into custody, but charges were pending late Sunday, the CHP said.