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Commerce Secretary John Bryson out of hospital after hit-and-run crashes

June 11, 2012 |  5:51 am


Commerce Secretary John Bryson has been released from a Los Angeles-area hospital following two hit-and-run crashes Saturday, the Commerce Department said.

The information came in the department's only statement concerning police reports that Bryson, 68, was involved in the two hit-and-run incidents in the San Gabriel Valley on Saturday before being found unconscious inside his Lexus vehicle by authorities.

"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident over the weekend," the Commerce Department said Monday morning. "He was taken to the hospital for examination and has been released. He has sustained no injuries and the investigation is ongoing."

Bryson, who authorities said was cooperative with detectives, was cited for felony hit-and-run but not booked in jail because he was taken to an area hospital. Authorities said drugs or alcohol do not appear to have played a role in the crash.

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

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.

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

According to his official biography, 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.

David Axelrod, a senior advisor to Obama, told CBS' Erica Hill Monday morning that he didn't have any specifics pertaining to the incidents.

"Well, this news broke overnight, so I don't really have anything to contribute," Axelrod said. "Obviously it's concerning, but I'm not going to comment because I don't know any of the details."

When asked if he thought the news would hurt Obama's campaign for reelection, Axelrod said there are "bigger things on the minds of the American people."


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