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UPDATED: US Cabinet Official Crashes Three Times in San Gabriel Valley

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson was under investigation for alleged felony hit-and-run in connection with three weekend traffic crashes in the San Gabriel Valley.

[Tuesday, June 12]

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.

[Previous]

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson was hospitalized yesterday and 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, authorities said.

The investigation is being conducted by the San Gabriel Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the two agencies said in a joint statement.

Bryson was hospitalized after Saturday's crashes and remains at an undisclosed medical facility, said sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.

"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.

Several media have since reported that, according to the department of commerce, Bryson suffered a seizure.

Bryson 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 the 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.

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).

Bryson fought Southern California Edison while at the NRDC. 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.

- City News Service

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