Commerce Secretary Charged With Felony Hit & Run, Hospitalized

An odd incident in Los Angeles this weekend involving Commerce Secretary John Bryson:

Authorities are investigating a series of traffic collisions in the San Gabriel Valley involving U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, authorities said Saturday.

Bryson was found unconscious in his vehicle and has been hospitalized, officials said.

Bryson was driving a Lexus in the 400 block of South San Gabriel Boulevard shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, when he allegedly rear-ended a Buick as it was waiting for a train to pass, according to a statement released by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the San Gabriel Police Department.

After briefly stopping to talk to the three men inside the Buick, Bryson left the location in the Lexus and then struck the Buick a second time, authorities said. The men followed Bryson’s car and called 911 to ask for police assistance.

Bryson continued to drive his Lexus into Rosemead, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. There, he allegedly crashed into a second vehicle near the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue.

There authorities found him alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his car.

Bryson was treated at the scene by Los Angeles County firefighters. Authorities said drugs or alcohol do not appear to have played a role in the crash. They said Bryson was cooperative. He was cited for felony hit and run but was not booked into jail because he had been admitted to the hospital. His condition was not known.

From the report, it sounds like Bryson may have had some kind of medical condition that led to the crashes. Hopefully, he’ll be okay and we’ll get to the bottom of this.

Update: The Commerce Department is saying that Bryson had a “seizure” at the time of the accidents:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure in connection with two traffic accidents in the Los Angeles area that left him injured and unconscious, the government said Monday.

The Commerce Department said Bryson was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and returned to Washington, spokeswoman Jennifer Friedman said. The department says an investigation is ongoing.

A Commerce Department official said Bryson was on personal time and did not have any security detail at the time of the accidents. He was driving his own vehicle and was given medication to treat the seizure.

At the same time, though, Talking Points Memo is shooting down earlier reports that drugs and alcohol have been ruled out by investigators:

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.”

Duran said he didn’t know how long it would take for the Los Angeles County crime lab to come back with test results for drugs or alcohol.

So, this story is far from over.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    Hmmm….not buying the medical issue thing for two reasons:

    A) He stopped and spoke with the people in the Buick. No word on what was said, but it was “brief” and he fled the scene, hitting their car again on the way out. Maybe he could do this while suffering some medical issue, but those behaviors sounds suspiciously non-medical and evasive.

    B) He’s being charged with felony hit and run. If there was some medical issue (not caused by the accidents), you’d think the police on scene would take that into account and charge him with something less serious than a felony. Don’t courts look down on flinging unwarranted felony charges around?

    I guess we’ll see, though.

  2. superdestroyer says:

    What is interesting in the media is that CNN is making this a bigger story than Fox. MSNBC seems to be ignoring the story all together.

    Also, when is OTB going to post about the shootings in Auburn, Alabama.

  3. sam says:

    @Herb:

    A) He stopped and spoke with the people in the Buick. No word on what was said, but it was “brief” and he fled the scene, hitting their car again on the way out. Maybe he could do this while suffering some medical issue, but those behaviors sounds suspiciously non-medical and evasive.

    Aren’t you overlooking the fact that he’s supposed to have hit a second car sometime later?

    After briefly stopping to talk to the three men inside the Buick, Bryson left the location in the Lexus and then struck the Buick a second time, authorities said. The men followed Bryson’s car and called 911 to ask for police assistance.

    Bryson continued to drive his Lexus into Rosemead, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. There, he allegedly crashed into a second vehicle near the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue.

    There authorities found him alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his car.

    The authorities have said that drugs and alcohol were not involved, so it does sound like a medical condition to me. As for the felony charge, that may be just pro forma is cases like this.

    Of course, at the end of the day, it’s going to be Obama’s fault, as I’m sure Supe will be able to demonstrate (as well as the President’s responsibility for the Auburn shootings. Same color and all that, don’t you know).

  4. Herb says:

    @sam:

    “Aren’t you overlooking the fact that he’s supposed to have hit a second car sometime later?”

    No, it’s the second car that’s so suspicious. If a seizure caused Bryson to hit the Buick, was he seizing when he got out and spoke to the three guys? Was he seizing when he got back in his Lexus and drove off? Maybe he had two seizures, the first one with the Buick, the second one in Rosemead. I guess it’s plausible.

    But based on the seizure story, you’d think the guys in the Buick would have found him unconscious behind the wheel after the first collision rather than the police finding him like that after the second (technically third) collision.

    Something just doesn’t smell right here.

  5. As noted in the update just posted, the Commerce Dept. is saying it was a seizure, and the LAPD is saying that alcohol and/or drugs have not been ruled out yet because the test results haven’t come back.

    If these felony charges stick, I don’t see how Bryson survives in office.

  6. mantis says:

    @Herb:

    There are lots of different kinds of seizures. Initial reporting on these types of incidents sucks.

    Just wait a bit. The details will emerge.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Right now, I’m assuming he has a medical condition that caused him to be in these 2 incidents. If it’s not that, a resignation will probably be forthcoming.

  8. Herb says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “As noted in the update just posted, the Commerce Dept. is saying it was a seizure”

    Ah…but note the careful wording:

    “Secretary Bryson was involved in a traffic accident in Los Angeles over the weekend,” said a statement by Commerce Director of Public Affairs Jennifer Friedman. “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. The investigation is ongoing.”

    It does not say the seizure caused the accidents. It says “he suffered a seizure.” I’m going to see if I can find the whole thing (if that’s not the whole thing). Plausible deniability is all over that statement.

    I’m waiting on that blood test. It was around 5PM, maybe too early to be drunk. But not too early to be doing bath salts!

    (Kidding about the bath salts.)

  9. Herb says:

    Not finding anything more than that brief statement….which is not on the Commerce Dept’s website either. (A form response to media inquiries?)

    At any rate…checked Google Earth. It’s 1.9 miles from the 400 block of San Gabriel Blvd (collision #1) to San Gabriel and Hellman (collision #2). It says it takes about 4 minutes to get there.

    Make of that what you will, but I’d say it doesn’t really help the seizure story…..

  10. Rick Almeida says:

    @sam:

    Aren’t you overlooking the fact that he’s supposed to have hit a second car sometime later?

    Not quite – he apparently hit the same car twice…which is pretty weird. From the linked article:

    After briefly stopping to talk to the three men inside the Buick, Bryson left the location in the Lexus and then struck the Buick a second time, authorities said.

  11. 11B40 says:

    Greetings:

    He should have let Lindsay Lohan drive.

  12. Lightwave says:

    And June continues to be an unending disaster for the Obama administration. Bryson basically has to resign in an election year over this, and if Eric Holder is nailed for contempt next week by Darrel Issa (an almost guaranteed outcome) he’s gone too. Europe’s melting down right now as we speak and it will take what’s left of the recovery with it.

    I don’t see how Obama wins in November, regardless of what Romney says or does.

  13. WR says:

    @Lightwave: Yes, if partisan hack Issa leads the partisan hacks of the house to accuse Holder of contempt, then he’s got to resign. Because we all know that the Republicans would never try to use phony legal issues to get rid of political opponents.

    Oh, besides that whole impeaching Clinton thing.

  14. Bob Morris says:

    As one who has been clean and sober many years and who wasn’t always that way, I would be astonished if someone who hit two cars then was found passed out at the wheel wasn’t drunk.

    Major media passing on that drugs and alcohol didn’t appear to be involved with no proof simply show how uncritical our media is.

  15. sam says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    Read the next paragraph, Rick:

    Bryson continued to drive his Lexus into Rosemead, which is patrolled by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. There, he allegedly crashed into a second vehicle near the intersection of San Gabriel Boulevard and Hellman Avenue.

  16. sam says:

    @Lightwave:

    and if Eric Holder is nailed for contempt next week by Darrel Issa (an almost guaranteed outcome) he’s gone too

    Or, as I think will happen if the Holder is found in contempt, the administration will tell Darrell Issa to go fvck himself.

  17. al-Ameda says:

    @Lightwave:
    Well yeah , Obama is to blame for Europe and for Bryson’s seizures.

  18. WR says:

    @sam: Let’s see, what happened at the Justice Department last week? Oh, that’s right, Holder told Florida that they couldn’t stop people from voting just because they were Democrats.

    And net week, Issa want to hold Holder in contempt.

    Nope. No way those two are connected.

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @WR: You brainless clot. You act as if the investigation into Fast and Furious (which is linked to the deaths of a couple hundred Mexicans and at least one US law enforcement officer) came completely out of nowhere and was ginned up directly in response to last week’s latest example of the Justice Department giving legal cover to the Democrats’ favorite election-stealing tactics.

    Tell me, have you found a way to link the Koch brothers to Bryson’s crash yet? Or have your brain trusts at Democratic Underground and Daily Kos not come up with talking points for you to parrot yet?