Photograph by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.
UPDATE: Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced Thursday that he has handed in his letter of resignation to the president. "I have come to the conclusion that I need to step down to prevent distractions from this critical mission," Bryson said in a letter to his department.
Bryson went on medical leave earlier this month after suffering an apparent seizure that occured on the same day he was in a pair of traffic accidents.
Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank is serving as acting secretary.
Tuesday, June 12: Secretary of Commerce John Bryson will take a medical leave of absence to undergo tests after suffering an apparent seizure this past weekend that occured on the same day he was in a pair of traffic accidents.
Bryson informed President Obama that he was taking a medical leave "so that I can focus all of my attention on resolving the health issues that arose over the weekend," according to a statement released by the department late Monday (via the Associated Press).
Deputy Secretary Dr. Rebecca Blank will serve as acting secretary of commerce during Bryson's leave.
Bryson was involved in multiple car accidents over the weekend in California, for which he was cited for a felony hit-and run. Government officials have said that the secretary suffered a seizure around the time of the accidents, but few details are available beyond that.
Monday, June 11: U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson faces felony hit-and-run charges after causing multiple collisions over the weekend, the last of which left him unconscious.
The bizarre incident unfolded Saturday in California. At around 5 p.m., Bryson, 68, was driving along a major road in San Gabriel when he rear-ended a car that had stopped for a passing train, according to police. As the Associated Press explains, Bryson spoke to the car's occupants before taking off, reportedly hitting their car again as he drove away. The car's occupants called police and followed his vehicle. Then, about five minutes later, the secretary crashed into a second vehicle.
In a short statement, a Commerce Department spokeswoman said Monday that Bryson suffered a seizure at some point on the day of the accidents. "Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend. He suffered a seizure. He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington," spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said in an email to reporters.
The occupants of the first car were treated by paramedics after complaining of pain following the crash, while those in the second car also complained of pain but declined medical attention. Both cars sustained only minor damage.
According to the Los Angeles Times, neither drugs nor alcohol appeared to be a factor in the crashes. Bryson was treated at the scene and admitted to a hospital after being cited for a felony hit-and-run. Bryson was reportedly cooperative with police, who spoke to him at the hospital.