SAN GABRIEL (CBS) — U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson has announced that he is taking a medical leave after he was cited for alleged felony hit-and-run in two separate car crashes over the weekend in Southern California.
The U.S. Department of Commerce said Bryson suffered a seizure before the crashes occurred.
The first incident took place at 5:05 p.m. Saturday in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard when Bryson, who was driving a Lexus, allegedly rear-ended a Buick.
Bryson spoke with three men who were in the vehicle before hitting the same car as he left the scene. The men then called 911 and followed Bryson to the scene of the next accident, which occurred at 5:10 p.m. when Bryson struck a Honda Accord on San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue in Rosemead.
Bryson, who was alone in his vehicle, was found unconscious at the wheel. He was treated by paramedics before being transported to a local hospital. Two of the men involved in the first crash were also treated at the scene, 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.”
Parker said Bryson was cooperating with investigators.
Authorities say there is no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in either collision.
The San Gabriel Police Department, Temple Sheriff’s Station and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are investigating the collisions.
Jennifer Friedman of the U.S. Department of Commerce released the following statement:
“Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend. He suffered a seizure. He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington. The investigation is ongoing. Secretary Bryson has no public events scheduled for today.”
Bryson notified President Obama Monday evening that he would be taking a medical leave of absence and immediately transferred his duties to Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank.
“I notified President Obama this evening that effective immediately I am taking a medical leave of absence so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend,” he wrote in a letter to his deputy. “During the period of my illness, I will not perform the functions and duties of my office. Therefore, by operation of law, as my first assistant, you will act in my stead for the duration of my absence.