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Commerce Secretary Suffered Seizure During Hit-And-Run Crashes

Dawn Megli |
June 11, 2012 | 8:39 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Bryson was admitted to a hospital for treatment before returning to Washington D.C. (Courtesy United States Department of Commerce)
Bryson was admitted to a hospital for treatment before returning to Washington D.C. (Courtesy United States Department of Commerce)
Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure during two car crashes in southern California over the weekend, according to a statement released by the Department of Commerce. One of the crashes is being investigated as a felony hit-and-run.

The 68-year-old former Edison International executive was found unconcious behind the wheel of his Lexus after colliding with multiple cars. Paramedics gave him medication to treat the seizure, according to a Commerce Department spokeswoman.

Bryson allegedly rear-ended a vehicle two times in San Gabriel on Saturday afternoon. A short time later, he hit another vehicle in Rosemead. None of the passengers in the other vehicles were seriously injured. Bryson was treated by paramedics at the scene and admitted to a hospital overnight. Police said they do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved. Bryson passed a breathalyzer test administered by the LAPD, the LA Times reported.

The conservative SuperPAC, American Crossroads, sent out a tweet, suggesting alcohol was involved. The tweet has since been deleted.

Obama appointed Bryson in late 2011. From the Christian Science Monitor:

Obama swore in the former utility executive as the head the Commerce Department in October, after easily overcoming conservatives' objections that his pro-environmental views made him unsuited for the job.

As secretary, Bryson has played a role as a member of the president's economic team and has worked to promote job creation. He has also advised on energy issues, particularly in the clean energy sector.

Bryson is the former head of Edison International, the holding company that owns Southern California Edison. Bryson has also served on boards of major corporations including the Boeing Co. and the Walt Disney Co.

He helped oversee Edison's transformation into a leading wind and solar company and launched a plan to turn 65 million square feet of unused commercial rooftops into solar power stations with enough electricity for more than 160,000 homes.

The weekend crashes have brought much attention to a normally low-key appointment. The Atlantic explained the Commerce Secretary's role:

It's a relatively minor Cabinet post, though it's been held by a few important politicians -- most notably, Herbert Hoover used it as his springboard to the presidency. On the surface, it sounds important: The Commerce Department is responsible for fostering economic growth and job creation domestically and working to promote overseas trade. But the reality is that Congress, the president, and the Federal Reserve have more direct control over job creation and the economy. Commerce collects much of the nation's economic and population data, most importantly the Census, and also includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the world's saddest aquarium, in the basement of the department's offices in Washington. Bryson's Commerce page says he's taken a particular interest in manufacturing.

Bryson was cited by police in the first crash for felony hit-and-run. The case has been turned over to the district attorney's office.

[View the story "Follow reaction to Bryson's crashes:" on Storify]



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