The 44-year-old mayor of Murrieta was arrested on suspicion of driving drunk after he allegedly crashed into a car filled with four teen cheerleaders, who were hospitalized with injuries, authorities said Friday.
Mayor Alan William Long was taken into custody after field sobriety tests convinced officers he was under the influence of alcohol, according to a news release from the Murrieta Police Department.
Officers were called to the scene of the collision about 8:20 p.m. Thursday at Jefferson and Lily avenues in Murrieta. The truck that Long was driving had rear-ended a passenger vehicle in which four Murrieta Valley High School students aged 14 to 17 were traveling.
“It just sounded like someone just got a trash can full of pots and pan and threw it on the road,” said Corina Hinojosa, who heard the collision outside her home.
The two vehicles were going southbound on Jefferson Avenue when the crash occurred, leaving the teens with “moderate to major” injuries, the press release stated.
The students were all hospitalized. A spokeswoman with the Murrieta Valley Unified School District said the teens were all cheerleaders.
Three had been released from the hospital while one was still hospitalized, the spokeswoman said Friday night.
Long, the sole occupant of the truck, showed signs of alcohol impairment and was given a field sobriety test, which he failed, according to Murrieta Police Lt. Ron Driscoll.
The mayor also registered a .07 and a .08 on two Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) tests performed in the field, Driscoll said. The results, which are not admissible in court, are respectively below and at the legal limit.
Based on the totality of the circumstances observed by the officers, Long was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence causing injury, according to Driscoll.
Long is a battalion chief with Anaheim’s city fire department, and is responsible for the city’s emergency management and preparedness, according to a municipal news release.
He was elected to the Murrieta City Council in 2010, according to his biography page on the city’s website, which states that public safety is one of his top three priorities.
Long is running for a second term in the Nov. 4 election.
Long was booked into the Southwest Detention Center in Murrieta and was released Friday on $50,000 bail. He was due in court Dec. 11, according to Riverside County inmate records.
Fellow Councilman Rick Gibbs told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that Long said he had taken a breathalyzer test that showed results below the legal limit at the crash site Thursday evening.
Gibbs called the incident “very much out of character” for Long, whom he said helped the cheerleaders onto the curb immediately after the crash.
“I’ve been at a number of social events with Alan over the years … and I’ve never seen him take a drink,” Gibbs told the Press-Enterprise.
A local news website, murrieta247.com, reported that Gibbs said Long had stopped for something to eat and a drink before the crash.
“Alan said he stopped for a piece of pizza and had a glass of wine,” Gibbs said. “He then stopped to repair some campaign signs and on the way home, he was involved in an accident.”