Secretary of Commerce Bryson resigns after multiple car accidents
President Obama accepts resignation and expresses appreciation
John Bryson, who got into three minor traffic crashes in San Gabriel and Rosemead earlier this month, when he blacked out because of what he says was a seizure, has resigned as U.S. Secretary of Commerce, President Barack Obama announced today, June 21.
“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,” the president said in a statement, adding that he accepted Bryson’s resignation Wednesday night.
The 68-year-old Bryson, the former head of Rosemead-based Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, went on medical leave after the June 9 crashes. His deputy, Rebecca Blank, becomes acting commerce secretary.
None of the crashes resulted in serious injuries, and there were no indications that drugs or alcohol were factors, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s and San Gabriel Police departments. Nonetheless, authorities launched a hit-and-run investigation, and it is still under way, Deputy Aura Sierra of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a telephone interview this morning.
In a letter sent to 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.”
Bryson, who maintains a home in San Marino, was driving a Lexus southbound in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard in San Gabriel just after 5 p.m. June 9 when the vehicle rear-ended a Buick stopped on the street awaiting a passing train, according to a joint statement by the Sheriff’s Department and San Gabriel police.
Three men were inside the car. Bryson spoke with them, then struck the car again as he left the scene, and they followed while calling police, according to the statement.
Bryson then drove into neighboring Rosemead, where he allegedly struck a Honda Accord occupied by a man and a woman at San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue around 5:10 p.m. Saturday.
He was later found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus, treated at the scene by Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics and taken to a hospital, where he remained overnight, according to the Sheriff’s Department.
There had been indications that not all was well with Bryson on the Thursday before the crashes, when he delivered a commencement speech before more than 1,000 people at Pasadena’s prestigious Polytechnic School, which his daughters attended. Normally a polished speaker, he mangled words without appearing to notice, one parent told the Los Angeles Times.
“It definitely seemed as though he lost his place at times—that he wasn’t sure what he was saying,” added Brad Olson, 18, a graduate who will attend Southern Methodist University in the fall.
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