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Commerce secretary has seizure; accused of hit-and-run

Jun. 11, 2012 - 09:39AM   |  
By David Jackson   |   Comments
Commerce Secretary John Bryson is seen earlier this year.
Commerce Secretary John Bryson is seen earlier this year. (Punit Aranjpe / AFP via Getty Images)

The White House is investigating an incident in which Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure while driving, collided with two cars and was cited by local police for hit-and-run, officials said Monday.

“We’re still in the process of gathering information,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “There’s more that needs to be learned.”

President Obama has not yet spoken with Bryson, Carney said, but White House chief of staff Jack Lew did talk with the secretary.

Carney said that officials are “obviously concerned about the incident” and about Bryson’s “health-related issues.”

The administration confirmed earlier this morning that Bryson suffered a seizure and was involved in a pair of auto accidents on Saturday, but did not comment on hit-and-run allegations.

“Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend,” said a statement released by the Commerce Department. “He suffered a seizure. He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington.”

The San Gabriel Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said officers cited Bryson for hit-and-run after causing two car accidents within minutes of one another in Southern California on Saturday.

Bryson, 68, nominated by President Obama last year, was treated at a hospital for non-threatening injuries after the crashes, police said.

“The investigation is ongoing,” said the Commerce Department statement. “Secretary Bryson has no public events scheduled for today.”

Bryson was on personal time in California and was not accompanied by a security detail, officials said.

The secretary’s overall health is part of the administration review; ABC News reported that Bryson also blacked out some four years ago at Boeing board meeting.

The incident began Saturday at 5:05 p.m. on South San Gabriel Boulevard, said a joint statement from the San Gabriel Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that described the incident as a “hit and run” collision.

“Secretary Bryson was allegedly traveling southbound in a Lexus on San Gabriel Boulevard and rear-ended a Buick occupied by three males that was stopped on the street awaiting a passing train,” said the police statement.

It added that “Bryson spoke with the males, then left the scene, hitting the same car again as he left the scene. The three males followed him in their car while calling San Gabriel Police officers via 911 and asking for assistance.”

Bryson then drove to the neighboring city of Rosemead, where he allegedly caused a collision involving a second car at about 5:10 p.m., police said.

Officers found Bryson “alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle,” the statement said. “He was treated at the scene by Los Angeles County Fire paramedics and transported to a local hospital for medical aid where he was admitted for treatment for non life-threatening injuries.”

The police also reported:

Two of the three males in the Buick (first collision) were treated by paramedics for complaint of pain.

The second vehicle that was struck was a Honda Accord occupied by a man and a woman, one of whom complained of pain as a result of the collision, but suffered no major injuries and declined medical aid.

There was minor damage to the Lexus and Honda Accord.

The investigation is in its preliminary stages. At this point in time, there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions. All parties were cooperative with law enforcement.

Bryson’s vehicle was stored by San Gabriel Police Department officers pending investigation. The San Gabriel collision is under investigation as a felony hit and run.

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David Jackson writes for USA Today.

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