Oakland Mayor Jean Quan Is “Unequivocal”: Not on Phone at Time of Crash

A day after a minor fender-bender that blossomed into a political conundrum because of the players involved, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan told reporters in no uncertain terms that she was not on her phone when her city SUV was rear-ended.

"I learned my lesson," Quan said. "I was not on my phone. My phone records will show that. I submitted them to police."

The "lesson" referred to a picture that emerged on Sunday on KRON's "Behaving Badly" of what appeared to be Quan texting and driving. A day later, another picture made the rounds on social media showing Quan holding a cellphone to her ear while driving.

And on Monday, the Department of Motor Vehicles said Quan was convicted on Feb. 3 of running a red light on April 10, 2013.

Quan did not discuss the red light conviction Monday. But she did say the police investigation into Sunday's accident, which occurred when she was on her way to visit a church, will likely take a week.

Quan's spokesman, Sean Maher, backed up his boss when reporters continued to pepper him with questions: "The mayor was unequivocal. She was not on her phone at all."

Quan, who is involved in a tough re-election battle, even took a lighthearted tone at a Monday news conference of front of City Hall, surrounded by reporters and TV cameras.

"Wow, you gotta give me this kind of coverage for the budget," she quipped.

Quan stuck to the same story she told on Sunday after the minor accident on Market Street when her Lexus SUV collided with a Nissan headed eastbound on 26th Street about 5:30 p.m.

The 36-year-old driver, identified as Lakisha Lovely, told reporters her back hurt, and she said she and her 14-year-old nephew went to the hospital as a precaution. Quan on Monday said her own back was "sore," but she was "grateful" no one else was seriously hurt. "It could have been a bad accident."

At first, police said officers weren't sure which driver was at fault. Officers later told the Oakland Tribune that a 36-year-old woman in the Nissan ran a red light and hit the left rear of Quan's car. Quan tweeted that the Nissan struck her left-rear tire.

But, still, there are conflicting reports from witnesses about whether the mayor had the right of way. Two witnesses told NBC Bay Area on Sunday that they saw the mayor run a red light.

"She was completely distracted," witness Margarett Randel said on Sunday. "She was looking down. She was not looking at the road, so I don’t even think she noticed that the light had turned red."

Thalis Ealy was also there on Sunday.

"I don’t know if she had been distracted or not, but she blatantly hit the car," he said. "She ran through the light... she ran a red light."

Cell phone video of the Sunday accident shows Quan in the moments after the crash, checking on the woman whose car she hit to make sure she and the 14-year-old boy in the passenger seat were not hurt.

What has become clear to Quan and her staff is that she works "24/7" and could use some help getting around. 

Maher said Quan is a "fiscal conservative" and doesn't want to pay someone – like former mayor Ron Dellums did – to drive her around.

The mayor, he said, is looking into the possibility of shifting current staff and using volunteers to help get Quan safely from event to event.

NBC Bay Area's Monte Francis contributed to this report.

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