John Bryson, US Commerce Secretary, cited in felony hit-run in San Gabriel Valley


The U.S. Commerce Department said Monday that Bryson had a seizure while behind the wheel, which may have played a role in both accidents. Bryson, who resides in San Marino, has since returned to Washington.

The first accident happened around 5 p.m. Saturday in 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard in San Gabriel. The second accident occurred a short time later at San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue in Rosemead.

According to L.A. Sheriff's deputies, Bryson first rear-ended a Buick that was waiting for a train to pass. Deputies said Bryson did make contact with the three people inside the vehicle, but then he got into his vehicle and took off, hitting the Buick again.

The three people followed Bryson in their car and called 911. According to deputies, that's when Bryson crashed into the second vehicle, a Honda Accord with two people inside.

"When he struck that vehicle, he was basically unconscious behind the wheel," said L.A. Sheriff's Deputy Tony Moore. Moore added that L.A. County Fire responded and treated Bryson at the scene and transported him to a local hospital where he was under observation and later released.

The White House said Monday night that Bryson will take a medical leave as he undergoes tests and evaluations after suffering a seizure in connection with two traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Monday that he wished Bryson would have notified the White House about the incident right away.

"Whenever a senior official is involved in an incident of this nature or any kind of incident like it, it's obviously important that the White House find out about it," said Carney. "This circumstance is pretty unique in that Secretary Bryson was alone, was not with a security detail and was on private time, which is common for certain members of the Cabinet, and it resulted in him both having a seizure and ending up in the hospital, so for that reason I think you have to recognize this as somewhat unique. But in general, it is important that the White House be informed as soon as possible."

Deputies said the injuries to all parties and the damage to property was minor. It does not appear alcohol or drugs were involved. Bryson did pass a Breathalyzer test.

However Bryson may have a pre-existing medical condition. Bryson was involved in a similar situation about four years ago in which he blacked out at a Boeing board meeting and was taken to the hospital.

Bryson was not arrested because he was seeking medical attention. It will be up to the district attorney's office to pursue charges.

Bryson's office released a statement saying Bryson was not injured and that the investigation is ongoing.

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