White House: Commerce Secretary John Bryson to take medical leave after accident
U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson speaks during a luncheon at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington Dec. 13, 2011. / AFP/Getty Images
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - The White House said late Monday that Commerce Secretary John Bryson, who was cited in a felony hit-and-run case in southern California over the weekend, will take a medical leave as he undergoes tests, evaluations.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said in a statement Monday that President Barack Obama's thoughts were with Bryson and his family.
The Commerce Department said Bryson transferred his functions and duties as secretary to Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, who is now acting commerce secretary.
The department said Bryson suffered a seizure on Saturday and had "limited recall" of the events related to the incident.
Commerce official, speaking on background, told CBS News that Bryson, 68, was given medication to treat the seizure.
Dr. Jacqueline French, a neurology professor at New York University's Langone Medical Center and School of Medicine, told CBSNews.com that it's possible for people to have consecutive seizures separated by minutes and that seizures can happen at any age.
A Commerce official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press that Bryson had not had a seizure before. The secretary had a "limited recall of the events" of the incident, the official said. Bryson was back in the office Monday and in touch with his doctors who were monitoring its progress.
Only minor injuries were reported in the two accidents in San Gabriel and Rosemead, Calif., outside Los Angeles Saturday around 5 p.m. PT. Bryson was found unconscious at the scene of the second accident.
According to a police statement, which said the investigation was still in its preliminary stages, there were no signs that drug or alcohol use played a role in the crashes.Commerce: Sec. cited in hit-and-run had seizure (At left, watch the CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker's report on Bryson's accident.)
Los Angeles Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Whitmore confirmed to CBS News that Bryson took a Breathalyzer test, the results of which were negative for driving under the influence of alcohol. Bryson also submitted to a blood test, the results of which were pending.
The secretary was hospitalized overnight for observation, according to Friedman.
Bryson was driving his own vehicle without a security detail, the Commerce official told CBS News.
Bryson was allegedly behind the wheel of a Lexus that rear-ended another vehicle waiting for a train to pass in San Gabriel at around 5:05 p.m. PT, according to a statement from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Bryson spoke with the three males in the other car, then allegedly drove away, hitting their Buick again in the process.
CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that police said Bryson asked the three men if they wanted to exchange information. He then returned to his car and backed up before allegedly hitting the Buick a second time and driving off. The three men in the Buick called police as they followed Bryson's vehicle from the scene.
Bryson was then "found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle," after allegedly causing another accident in the neighboring city of Rosemead about five minutes later, according to the statement.
Police said Bryson was acting strangely, Whitaker said.
While Bryson has been formally cited in the hit-and-run, it will be up to the district attorney's office to decide whether formal criminal charges should be filed, police said.
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