Updated: U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, a San Marino native, is taking a leave of absence to undergo medical tests in the wake of his weekend traffic accidents, Yahoo!'s The Ticket reported:
"The President's thoughts are with Secretary Bryson and his family during this time. Secretary Bryson assured the White House that the Commerce Department staff will not miss a beat in their work helping America's businesses compete," President Barack Obama's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said in a statement.
Previously: U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson is under investigation for alleged felony hit-and-run in connection with three weekend traffic crashes that occurred in the San Gabriel Valley in the span of a few minutes, but commerce officials said he suffered a seizure.
The investigation was being conducted by the San Gabriel Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Bryson was hospitalized after Saturday's crashes at an undisclosed medical facility, said sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.
A Commerce Department spokeswoman said Bryson had no injuries as a result of the crashes and has been released.
"The preliminary investigation at the scene showed no indication of alcohol or drugs,'' Parker said. "What's not known is if he was in any medical distress. That's part of the investigation." He said Bryson was cooperating with the probe.
A Commerce Secretary spokeswoman said in Washington Monday morning that her boss did indeed suffer a medical emergency.
"Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend. He suffered a seizure,"' said Jennifer Friedman, adding that he was back in the nation's capital but has no public events scheduled today. What could have caused the seizure was not immediately disclosed.
Bryson, who lives 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 he rear-ended a Buick stopped on the street awaiting a passing train, according to a statement issued by Parker and San Gabriel police Lt. Ariel Duran. 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, they said.
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., Parker and Duran said. He was later found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus, they said.
Los Angeles County firefighters treated him at the scene and transported him to a hospital for injuries not regarded as life-threatening. Two of the men from the first crash were treated by paramedics for pain, according to Parker and Duran. They said one of the people in the Honda complained of pain but suffered no major injuries and declined medical treatment. There was minor damage to the Lexus and the Accord, according to the statement. The Lexus is now in the custody of San Gabriel police. White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters in Washington that President Barack Obama had not spoken to Bryson, but the president's chief of staff, Jack Lew, did.
"I don't have a detailed read-out of that conversation," Carney said. "We're obviously concerned about the incident, concerned about Secretary Bryson's health-related issues that played a role in this incident. We're still gathering information about it." Carney said he did not know if there was any previous indication that Bryson had a health condition making him prone to seizures.
"I can tell you because he felt he was capable of doing the job and he's been an effective commerce secretary since he was confirmed,'' he said. Carney noted that Bryson was alone at the time of the crashes, "not with his security detail." Bryson delivered the Commencement address Thursday at Pasadena Polytechnic School, attended by several of his daughters, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.
The 68-year-old Bryson, who previously headed the corporate parent of Southern California Edison, earned his law degree from Yale. He co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council and was there from 1969 to 1979. Governor Jerry Brown appointed him to the state Water Resources Board in 1976. He was also president of the California Public Utilities Commission (1979 to 1983). In 1984, he was recruited by an Edison subsidiary and he became chairman and CEO of Edison International and Southern California Edison in October 1990.