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After seizure, crashes, Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigns

June 21, 2012 |  8:36 am

John Bryson

Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who said he suffered a seizure resulting in two hit-and-run crashes in the San Gabriel Valley earlier this month, has resigned from his Cabinet position.

In a letter to President Obama dated Wednesday, the 68-year-old Bryson said he was stepping down as a result of his seizure and medical leave of absence.

“I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9th could be a distraction from my performance as Secretary and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership of the Department,” he wrote.

Bryson shared the news with his staff Thursday morning and said Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, who has led the department since Bryson began the leave of absence June 11, would continue to serve as acting secretary.

Police found Bryson unconscious at the wheel of his Lexus after it struck two vehicles shortly after 5 p.m. on June 9. He was cited for felony hit-and-run but was not booked because he was taken to an area hospital, where he spent the night under observation before returning to Washington the next day.

Commerce Department officials later attributed the crash to a seizure, which they said was Bryson's first.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

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

Bryson, who has a home in San Marino, was in Southern California to give the commencement address on June 7 at Pasadena Polytechnic School, which his four daughters once attended, school officials said. They have since graduated.

Some students and parents at the school noticed that Bryson, a polished public speaker, made mistakes and had lapses during his remarks. Several people told The Times that Bryson repeated himself and rambled at times. One parent said he mangled words and did not appear to notice.


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Photo: U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson has resigned after suffering a seizure that apparently led to two crashes in the San Gabiel Valley earlier this month. Credit: Brendan Smialowski  /Getty Images

WASHINGTON - FILE: U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson waits for U.S. President Barack Obama to speak about government reform in the East Room of the White House January 13, 2012 in Washington, DC. According to reports, Bryson, who was involved in a series of hit and run accidents in Los Angeles, has resigned. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)