Officials: U.S. Commerce Secretary Suffered Seizure

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  • SAN GABRIEL, Calif. (AP) — Medical records could determine whether U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson will be charged in two weekend fender-benders that led to his hospitalization after police found him slumped behind the wheel of his vehicle in the Los Angeles suburbs.

    He suffered a seizure Saturday afternoon, Commerce Department officials said Monday, but it wasn't clear whether the medical episode preceded or followed a hit-and-run collision. Bryson had not had a seizure before, said a department official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the secretary's medical history.

    Bryson has a "limited recall of the events," the official said.

    The crashes drew attention because of possible health concerns involving a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet, as well as the challenge investigators face when trying to determine if someone should be held criminally responsible because of adverse health.

    Bryson, 68, was driving alone in a Lexus in San Gabriel, a community of about 40,000 northeast of Los Angeles, when he struck the rear of a vehicle that had stopped for a passing train, authorities said.

    He spoke briefly with the three occupants and then hit their car again as he departed, investigators said. They followed him while calling police.

    He was cited for felony hit-and-run, although he has not been charged.

    Bryson then struck a second car in the nearby city of Rosemead, where he was found unconscious in his car, authorities said.

    Bryson has returned to Washington, Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said.

    White House press secretary Jay Carney said the administration was gathering information about the incidents.

    "We're obviously concerned about the incident, about the health-related issues that played a role in this incident," Carney said.

    Officials said Bryson was not on state business and did not have a security detail at the time of the accidents. He was driving a personal car and was given medication to treat the seizure.

    Bryson took a Breathalyzer test that didn't detect any alcohol, but investigators were awaiting the results from a blood test, said Los Angeles County sheriff's Capt. Mike Parker.

    Two people in the first collision were treated by paramedics, authorities said. A couple involved in the second crash declined medical aid.

    The case was being reviewed by sheriff's investigators and will likely be submitted to prosecutors in the coming days.

    "In most cases, it is presented to the DA's office to make a decision," sheriff's Lt. Margarito Robles said.

    Defense attorney Steve Meister said authorities will be examining why the crashes happened.

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