The mayor of Murrieta resigned Monday after being arrested Thursday on suspicion of seriously injuring four high school students while driving drunk.
Alan Long’s attorney, Virginia Blumenthal, insisted, though, that the former mayor’s blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit at the time of the accident, adding that his resignation was “not an admission of guilt.”
“Every place he goes, this comes up, and it casts aspersions upon the city,” Blumenthal said in a phone interview.
“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.”
Long, 44, of Murrieta, was driving south on Jefferson Avenue toward Lily Avenue in a full-sized truck about 8:18 p.m. when he crashed into the rear of the students’ vehicle, according to a police statement.
Police said Long, who is also a battalion chief with the Anaheim Fire Department, showed “signs and symptoms consistent with alcohol impairment.”
He was taken into custody after failing a series of sobriety field tests, police said.
On Monday, Blumenthal called the incident an “accident.”
“There are a lot of accidents that are not crimes,” she said. “Alcohol was consumed, but it’s our position that he was not under the influence of alcohol at the time he was driving.”
Blumenthal said she could not comment on the incident because an investigation is ongoing. She said Long was released Thursday evening on $50,000 bail and has not been charged.
The Murrieta Valley High School students, who are 14 to 17, suffered moderate to major injuries and were taken to area hospitals.
Blumenthal said that Long rendered aid to the students at the scene and expressed “deep concern for the safety and well-being of those” who were injured.
“He extends his sincere apologies for this accident to each of them and to their families as well as to the residents of the city of Murrieta,” the attorney said in a statement.
Long was elected in November 2010 with the “highest number of votes,” according a biography on the city’s website that has since been removed.
On Murrieta’s City Council website, the position of mayor is now listed as “Vacant.”
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