Obama Talks to San Marino Resident Commerce Secretary After 3 Hit and Runs

The President told San Marino resident and U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Tuesday to focus on health and family during his leave of absence after three hit-and-run collisions on Saturday.

Following is taking a leave of absence to get evaluated, Yahoo!'s The Ticket reported Monday.

The Commerce Department said earlier that he suffered a seizure during the accidents and the Los Angeles Times reported that a mangled commencement speech Bryson gave in Pasadena Thursday may be a clue to his condition.

City News Service reported the following Tuesday about President Obama speaking with Bryson for the first time since the Saturday hit and runs:

President Barack Obama today encouraged John Bryson to focus on his own health in the aftermath of several traffic crashes in the San Gabriel Valley involving the U.S. commerce secretary.

The telephone conversation was the first time the two men spoke since Saturday's crashes, which are now the subject of hit-and-run investigations.

Obama urged Bryson to "focus his thoughts on his own health" and on his family, said Josh Earnest, principal deputy press secretary to the president.

After the crashes, which Bryson's office attributed to a seizure, the 68- year-old Bryson flew back to Washington, D.C. The White House announced late Monday that Bryson will take a medical leave of absence as "he undergoes tests and evaluations." His deputy, Dr. Rebecca Blank, will become acting secretary of commerce.

Bryson, who formerly headed Edison International, Southern California Edison's corporate parent, and who maintains a home in San Marino, was driving a Lexus southbound in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard in San Gabriel just after 5 p.m. Saturday when the vehicle rear-ended a Buick stopped on the street awaiting a passing train, according to a joint statement from the L.A. County sheriff's and San Gabriel police departments. Three men were inside the car. Bryson spoke with them, then struck the car again as he left the scene, and they followed while calling police, according to the statement. Bryson then drove into neighboring Rosemead, where he allegedly struck a Honda Accord occupied by a man and a woman at San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue around 5:10 p.m. Saturday. He was later found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus, treated at the scene by Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics and taken to a hospital, where he remained overnight.

None of the crashes resulted in serious injuries, and there were no indications that drugs or alcohol were factors, according to the Sheriff's Department and San Gabriel police.

A commencement address Bryson delivered before more than 1,000 people Thursday at Pasadena's prestigious Polytechnic School, which his daughters attended, may have provided a harbinger of what was to come. Normally a polished speaker, Bryson mangled words without appearing to notice, one parent told the Los Angeles Times.

"It definitely seemed as though he lost his place at times -- that he wasn't sure what he was saying," added Brad Olson, 18, a graduate who will attend Southern Methodist University in the fall.

Do you know John Bryson? What do you think of the seizure claim and the hit-and-runs?


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