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U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson Resigns After Medical Leave

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SAN GABRIEL (CBS) — U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced his resignation Thursday, less than two weeks after suffering a seizure connected to three traffic accidents in Southern California.

In a letter sent to President Obama Wednesday, Bryson wrote that the present “is a critical period for our country’s economy.”

“I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9th could be a distraction from my performance as Secretary and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership of the Department. It has been an honor to serve you, your Administration and the American public as the U.S. Secretary of Commerce.”

In a letter this morning to his staff, he added: “…I will continue to do everything I can to support the President and America’s businesses as they continue to advance innovation, U.S. competitiveness, and prosperity for our people in the months and years ahead.”

“I want to extend my deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months, and wish him and his family the very best,” President Obama said in a statement.

Last week, Bryson took a medical leave after he was cited for alleged felony hit-and-run in two separate car crashes on June 9.

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. 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 said there is no indication that drugs or alcohol played a role in either collision.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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