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Commerce Secretary John Bryson given medication after seizure

June 11, 2012 | 10:10 am


U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson received medication after suffering a seizure in connection with two hit-and-run crashes Saturday in the San Gabriel Valley, an agency official said Monday.

Authorities found Bryson, 68, unconscious in his Lexus after hitting two vehicles shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, authorities said. He was cited for felony hit-and-run, but was not booked and was taken to a hospital.

Department spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman confirmed the information to The Times on Monday.

MAP: Commerce Secretary involved in San Gabriel Valley car accidents

"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.

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker said Bryson voluntarily took a Breathalyzer test after the accidents but it did not detect any alcohol.

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."

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, authorities said.

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 with two people inside 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. A Commerce official said later he was given medication to treat the seizure but did not elaborate on the treatment or where it was given.

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 was in Southern California to give the commencement address at Pasadena Polytechnic School on Thursday, which his four daughters once attended, school officials said. They have since graduated.

Head of School Deborah Reed said John and his wife, Louise, had both served on the Board of Trustees. She called the commencement ceremony, which drew 1,200 attendees, a "lovely event," and declined to comment on Bryson's appearance.

"I'm an educator and hardly qualified to make any comment on anyone's health," she told The Times.


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