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Commerce Secretary Bryson passed Breathalyzer test after accidents

June 11, 2012 |  8:38 am


U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson voluntarily took a Breathalyzer test after being involved in two hit-and-run accident Saturday, and the test detected no alcohol use, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said.

Capt. Mike Parker said authorities also took a blood test and are awaiting the results before determining whether to file charges in connection with the accidents in San Gabriel and Rosemead.

"If blood tests show he [the secretary of Commerce] was not under the influence, then criminal charges in the Rosemead collision would be unlikely," said Parker, whose agency is investigating the Rosemead incident. "Whether or not the collisions were the result of a medical condition is part of the investigation, which is ongoing."

MAP: Commerce Secretary involved in San Gabriel Valley car accidents

The San Gabriel Police Department is probing the San Gabriel crash.

A Commerce Department spokeswoman, Jennifer Friedman, on Monday said Bryson suffered a seizure in connection with the crashes.

"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend. He suffered a seizure," Friedman said in a statement. "He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington. The investigation is ongoing. Secretary Bryson has no public events scheduled for today."

Bryson had no security detail with him during the crashes because he was driving his own vehicle on personal time, sources said.

Bryson, 68, was cited with felony hit-and-run following the Saturday incidents but was not booked in jail because he was taken to an area hospital. Authorities said he was cooperative with detectives, and drugs or alcohol do not appear to have been a factor.

"The investigation is in its preliminary stages," officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and San Gabriel Police Department said in a statement.

Bryson was driving a Lexus in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday when he allegedly rear-ended a Buick as it was waiting for a train to pass, according to the statement.

After briefly stopping to talk to the three men inside the Buick, Bryson left the location in the Lexus and then struck the Buick a second time, authorities said. The men followed Bryson's car and called 911 to ask for police assistance, according to the police statement.

Bryson continued to drive his Lexus into Rosemead, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, authorities said. There, he allegedly crashed into a second vehicle near the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue, they said.

Officers found him alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his car, they said.

Bryson was chairman of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, for 18 years until 2008. He was sworn in by President Obama as the head of the Commerce Department in October.

He reportedly gave the commencement address Thursday at Pasadena Polytechnic School, which several of his daughters attended.


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-- Andrew Blankstein (twitter.com/anblanx) and Kate Mather (twitter.com/katemather)