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John Bryson case: Commerce secretary taking leave to 'focus' on health

June 12, 2012 |  6:15 am


Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced Monday evening that he is taking an immediate leave of absence, telling his deputy secretary he intended to work toward "resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend" when he was involved in a pair of traffic incidents.

"I notified President Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend," Bryson wrote Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank in a memo released by the Commerce Department.

Police found Bryson, 68, unconscious at the wheel of 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 because he was taken to an area hospital.

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

"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."

A Commerce Department official said later that Bryson had never had a seizure before and had "limited recall of the events." He remains in contact with doctors, the official said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney announced Bryson's leave of absence Monday evening.

"Secretary Bryson informed the White House tonight that he will be taking a medical leave of absence from his position as Commerce secretary as he undergoes tests and evaluations," Carney said. "The president’s thoughts are with Secretary Bryson and his family during this time."


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-- Kathleen Hennessey in Washington; Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather in Los Angeles