Alan Long, the mayor of Murrieta, California, resigned Monday after he was involved in a car crash that injured four high school students while he was allegedly driving drunk Thursday night.
Long, 44, was driving south on Jefferson Avenue in a truck when he rear-ended the students’ car shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday night, according to the Los Angeles Times. Police told the Times that the mayor showed “signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol impairment.”
The four high school students, all cheerleaders ages 14 to 17, were reportedly taken to local hospitals with “moderate to major injuries.”
Long’s attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, said in the report that the incident was an “accident,” and maintained that the mayor’s blood-alcohol content was within the legal limit at the time of the crash.
“There are a lot of accidents that are not crimes,” Blumenthal told the Times. “Alcohol was consumed, but it’s our position that he was not under the influence of alcohol at the time he was driving.”
Blumenthal also said the mayor’s resignation was “not an admission of guilt.” She explained that Long was stepping down because the incident would be distracting when conducting official business.
“Every place he goes, this comes up, and it casts aspersions upon the city,” Blumenthal told the Times. “Anytime you have a public official, you will always have cries for resignation. Because he’s mayor, you go out to ceremonial occasions. And you’d rather focus on the event at hand than be asked personal questions — and that’s what would happen.”
However, according to CBS Los Angeles, Long has not ruled out the possibility of running for re-election.
“I want to make it very clear that while I am resigning my positions as Mayor and and as a member of the City Council, I am not withdrawing from the current election,” Long told CBS. “Once the legal process is complete, I feel I will be exonerated, and therefore see no reason why I should not seek re-election.”
A friend of one of the injured students, fellow cheerleader Lexi Tudor, told CBS that the Murrieta Valley High School football team felt the absence of the four cheerleaders at their most recent home game.
“It’s hard on our whole school,” Tudor said. “We weren’t as spirited. Everyone was sad. To hear that someone we look up to, like the mayor, did something like that is really hard to accept.”