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John Bryson suffered 'complex partial seizure,' official says

June 21, 2012 | 11:48 am

Former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson
Former U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who resigned from his Cabinet position Thursday, is still undergoing testing for the seizure doctors said he suffered in connection with two hit-and-run crashes in the San Gabriel Valley, a department official told The Times.

Doctors are continuing to evaluate the 68-year-old Bryson in connection with the June 9 incident, which Bryson's neurologist initially diagnosed as a "complex partial seizure," the Commerce Department official said.

According to the National Library of Medicine, complex partial seizures are a type of focal seizures that occur in a limited area of the brain. Complex partial seizures can affect behavior as well as "awareness or memory of events before, during and immediately after the seizure."

A department official previously said Bryson had a "limited recall of the events" surrounding the seizure, which was said to be Bryson's first.

Bryson was driving a Lexus in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. June 9 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 a 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, authorities said. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Bryson was cited for felony hit-and-run but not booked in jail because he was taken to an area hospital, officials said, where he remained overnight for testing and observation.

He took a medical leave of absence June 11, telling Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank he needed to "focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend."

He informed President Barack Obama of his resignation Wednesday night, Commerce Department officials said. Obama confirmed Thursday he had accepted the resignation.

"I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best," Obama said in a statement.

Bryson, who has a home in San Marino, was in Southern California on June 7 to give the commencement address at Pasadena Polytechnic School on June 7, the alma mater of his four daughters.

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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— Kate Mather (twitter.com/katemather

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