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Ex-Commerce Secretary Bryson tested positive for Ambien, D.A. says

July 3, 2012 |  1:46 pm

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Bryson crashes: More photos

John Bryson will not face criminal charges Former Commerce Secretary John Bryson tested positive for the sleeping aid Ambien, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. 

Prosecutors announced Tuesday that they have decided not to file criminal charges against Bryson in connection with two alleged hit-and-run crashes in the San Gabriel Valley last month.

Though his blood tested negative for alcohol and controlled substances, he did test positive for Ambien, the sleeping drug, according to a D.A. memo explaining the decision not to file charges in the case.

DOCUMENT: Read the D.A.'s decision

His tests showed “low end of therapeutic levels” and a criminalist could not say if it was a factor in the collisions. Both treating doctors agree he was suffering confusion following a seizure and crashed as a result, according to the memo.

“Based on doctors’ opinions there is insufficient evidence to show knowing failure to provide personal information for hit and run,” the memo reads. "Further, based on blood tests and medical condition, there is insufficient evidence to prove driving under the influence."

Bryson's neurologist initially diagnosed him as suffering a "complex partial seizure," a Commerce Department official said. A department official previously said Bryson had a "limited recall of the events" surrounding the seizure, which was said to be Bryson's first.

PHOTOS: Former Secretary John Bryson hit-and-run crashes

Bryson was driving a Lexus in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. on 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 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. 

Bryson was in Southern California on June 7 to give the commencement address at Polytechnic School in Pasadena, 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.


Commerce official: John Bryson has 'limited recall' of crashes

White House 'concerned' about Commerce Secretary John Bryson

Commerce agency: Secretary John Bryson had seizure linked to crashes

-- Robert Faturechi and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: President Obama, right, meets with John Bryson, former secretary of Commerce, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on June 21. Credit: Susan Walsh / Associated Press