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UPDATE 2-US Commerce Secretary Had Seizure in Hit-and-run Crashes

Monday, 11 Jun 2012 01:31 PM

 

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* California police say Bryson involved in 3 collisions

* Bryson, 68, suffered a seizure, Commerce Dept. says

* Obama's cabinet secretary under felony investigation (Adds Commerce statement, details, background)

By Susan Heavey

WASHINGTON, June 11 (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson is under investigation for hit-and-run crashes with two cars near his California home over the weekend and his office said he had suffered a seizure.

Bryson, who represents business interests in the Obama administration, was hospitalized in California but has returned to Washington, Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said in a statement on Monday. The investigation into the crashes is ongoing, she added.

Earlier on Monday, police in Southern California said Bryson was found unconscious on Saturday behind the wheel of his Lexus after crashing into one car twice and then colliding with another. At least one crash is being investigated as a felony hit-and-run.

The 68-year-old was given medication to treat the seizure, according to a Commerce Department official, who added that Bryson was driving his own car on personal time and had no security detail at the time of the crashes.

Police said so far "there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions." They added that Bryson and others were cooperative with the investigation.

Los Angeles police have formally cited Bryson in the incident but the local district attorney's office will decide whether to file formal criminal charges, according to CBS News, quoting Los Angeles police.

The White House had no immediate comment.

JOINED CABINET IN LATE 2011

Bryson, an energy expert and seasoned businessman, has served as Obama's secretary of Commerce since October 2011.

It is not clear how the accident or the investigation could affect his job in the administration.

In a statement released early Monday, California's San Gabriel Police Department said a preliminary investigation indicates Bryson caused the first crash when his Lexus rear-ended a Buick in San Gabriel on Saturday at about 5:05 p.m. He hit it again when leaving the scene.

The second crash took place about five minutes later in nearby Rosemead, California, when Bryson allegedly hit a Honda Accord, according to the statement, which was issued along with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Paramedics treated Bryson at the crash site and he was admitted to a local hospital, police said. Passengers in the other cars had no major injuries. Commerce's Friedman said Bryson stayed at the hospital overnight.

Bryson is a former chief executive of Edison International . (Additional reporting by Ron Grover in Los Angeles and Doug Palmer in Washington; Editing by Mary Milliken and Anthonjy Boadle)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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