Key Member of Obama Economic Team Facing Felony Hit-and-Run Charges

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Common Dreams

Key Member of Obama Economic Team Facing Felony Hit-and-Run Charges

by
Common Dreams staff

President Barack Obama shakes hands with incoming the US Commerce Secretary - corporate CEO John Bryson at the White House photo taken May 31, 2011. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, who is under investigation for possible felony hit-and-run after allegedly causing two car accidents in California, suffered a seizure, a Commerce Department spokeswoman said Monday.

Police told the Washington Post that Bryson would have been arrested and charged on Saturday, had he not been in hospital. As it is, he was instructed to appear at Alhambra Superior Court in 60 days.

Secretary Bryson was viewed as someone who could help boost Obama's standing with the corporate community.  Bryson, 68, led Southern California Edison as Chairman and CEO for 18 years, is a former chief executive of Edison International and served as defense giant Boeing’s longest-serving board director.

“At such a critical time for our economy, I nominated John because I believe his decades of experience both in the public and private sector have given him a clear understanding of what it takes to put America on a stronger economic footing and create jobs,” Obama said in a statement after the Senate’s vote to approve his nomination last year.

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Talking Point Memo reports:

Investigators Haven’t Ruled Out Drugs, Alcohol In Commerce Secretary Hit And Run

Despite earlier reports, investigators haven’t yet ruled out drugs or alcohol in a bizarre pair of weekend collisions allegedly involving U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, a lieutenant with the San Gabriel Police Department told TPM on Monday morning.

“We can’t confirm that it was no drugs or alcohol,” Lt. Ariel Duran said by phone. “We don’t know until all the testing comes back. So at this point, it could be one of those or it could be medical.”

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Reuters reports:

U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson is under investigation for hit-and-run crashes with two cars near his California home over the weekend and his office said he had suffered a seizure.

Bryson, who represents business interests in the Obama administration, was hospitalized in California but has returned to Washington, Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said in a statement on Monday. The investigation into the crashes is ongoing, she added.

Earlier on Monday, police in Southern California said Bryson was found unconscious on Saturday behind the wheel of his Lexus after crashing into one car twice and then colliding with another. At least one crash is being investigated as a felony hit-and-run.

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Below is the local police department’s press release on the incident:

News Release
San Gabriel Police Department
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department

On Saturday, June 9, 2012 at about 5:05PM a hit and run traffic collision occurred in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard in the City of San Gabriel.

The City of San Gabriel is policed by the San Gabriel Police Department.

Preliminary investigation indicates the collision was caused by Suspect John Bryson, who is the United States Secretary of Commerce.

Secretary Bryson was allegedly travelling southbound in a Lexus on San Gabriel Boulevard and rear-ended a Buick occupied by three males that was stopped on the street awaiting a passing train. Bryson spoke with the males, then left the scene, hitting the same car again as he left the scene. The three males followed him in their car while calling San Gabriel Police officers via 911 and asking for assistance.

Bryson drove into the neighboring city of Rosemead. Rosemead is policed by the Temple Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Bryson then allegedly caused a collision involving a second car at about 5:10PM while driving southbound on San Gabriel Boulevard at Hellman Avenue in the city of Rosemead, where he was found alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his vehicle. He was treated at the scene by Los Angeles County Fire paramedics and transported to a local hospital for medical aid where he was admitted for treatment for non life-threatening injuries.

Two of the three males in the Buick (first collision) were treated by paramedics for complaint of pain.

The second vehicle that was struck was a Honda Accord occupied by a man and a woman, one of whom complained of pain as a result of the collision, but suffered no major injuries and declined medical aid.

There was minor damage to the Lexus and Honda Accord.

The investigation is in its preliminary stages. At this point in time, there is no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions. All parties were cooperative with law enforcement.

Bryson’s vehicle was stored by San Gabriel Police Department officers pending investigation. The San Gabriel collision is under investigation as a felony hit and run.

Traffic investigators with the San Gabriel Police Department and Temple Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are jointly investigating the two traffic collisions.

News Media inquiries are being handled by Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (323) 267-4800. No additional information is available at this time.

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