Questions have risen as to whether or not Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was texting behind the wheel before the vehicle she was driving was struck by another vehicle whose driver allegedly ran a red light. Two different accounts of what happened took place on Sunday, as the mayor was traveling from one church event to another.
According to police, Quan was headed north on Market Street at the intersection with 26th Street in Oakland around 5:30 pm on Sunday, in a newer model, city-issued Lexus SUV when the unnamed female driver of a 2008 Nissan Altima struck her vehicle, San Jose Mercury News reports. The female driver was accompanied by a 14-year-old boy. Both were reportedly in pain and were taken to a hospital for examination.
But Margarett Randel, 22, who witnessed the collision, said Quan actually ran the red light and that she saw Quan looking down as she did. Randel, who was standing outside when the car accident occurred, told the Mercury News, “I seen the whole thing… Mayor Quan passed right through the red light. She wasn’t looking where she was going. She was looking down.” Randel did not say whether or not she believed the mayor was using her cellphone, according to the Mercury News.
Quan’s spokesman Sean Maher said Quan was neither texting nor talking on the phone when the collision occurred.
Just one week ago on Sunday and Monday, photographs emerged of what appear to be Mayor Quan texting and driving and another where she is holding a cell phone up to her ear while driving, respectively. Quan, who said she was searching for an address, told reporters that she believed her action to be allowed under state law, the Mercury News reports.
According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, “the new Wireless Communications Device Law (effective January 1, 2009) makes it an infraction to write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device, such as a cell phone, while driving a motor vehicle.”