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Obama discusses Commerce Secretary John Bryson's accidents

June 11, 2012|By Seema Mehta
  • U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, as seen in a file photo.
U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, as seen in a file photo. (Brendan Smialowski /Getty…)

President Obama said he learned Monday about Commerce Secretary John Bryson’s weekend auto accidents in California, which apparently were caused by a seizure, but said he has not yet spoken with the Cabinet member.

“My hope is that he is doing all right,” Obama said in a White House interview with KITV from Sioux City, Iowa. “We’re still trying to find out. It sounds like it was health-related in some way, but we’re going to make sure obviously that he gets the best care, and we’ll be able to make a determination from there.”

Bryson, the former chief of Edison International, struck cars in San Gabriel and Rosemead before police found him unconscious in his Lexus. He was taken to a hospital for overnight observation, and has returned to Washington.

Bryson was cited for felony hit-and-run, and the case has been turned over to prosecutors who will make a decision about whether to prosecute. The 68-year-old voluntarily took a Breathalyzer test after the accidents, and it did not detect any alcohol. Drugs were not believed to be a factor.

Bryson was in town to deliver a graduation address Thursday at Polytechnic High School in Pasadena.

Earlier, the White House confirmed that Chief of Staff Jack Lew had spoken with Bryson on Monday morning.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the details of the crash were still being gathered, and he emphasized that Bryson was traveling alone, without security, on his private time. Carney declined to comment on whether Bryson would be put on medical leave or had a history of similar episodes, referring those questions to the Commerce Department.

“I can tell you that the president nominated Secretary Bryson to serve because he felt he was capable of doing the job. And he has been an effective commerce secretary since he was confirmed,” Carney said.

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seema.mehta@latimes.com

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