John Bryson resigns after San Gabriel car crashes

Commerce Secretary John Bryson seen in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington.
Commerce Secretary John Bryson seen in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington.
Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced his resignation Thursday following a series of car crashes earlier this month in San Gabriel. Bryson, 68, had been on medical leave due to the incident, citing seizures he said caused the accidents.

President Barack Obama said he accepted Bryson's resignation and thanked Bryson for the "invaluable experience and expertise" he brought to the administration. Bryson, who has a home in San Marino, was formerly the head of Edison International.

Bryson wrote in a letter to Obama that "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." When he took medical leave shortly after the car crashes, Bryson transferred his functions and duties as secretary to Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, who is now acting commerce secretary.

Bryson's confirmation took months of effort from the Obama administration, and Bryson had just been confirmed last October.

A series of bizarre car crashes in June set in motion the events that led to his resignation. Bryson was driving alone in a Lexus on a major street in San Gabriel when he struck the rear end of a vehicle that had been stopped for a passing train, authorities said. The secretary spoke briefly with the occupants and then hit their car again as he departed, officials said. The three occupants followed Bryson while calling police, and Bryson then caused a second collision minutes later in Rosemead, striking a car occupied by a man and a woman, authorities said. Bryson was found alone and unconscious in his car.

Bryson was taken to a hospital after the incident, and the Commerce Department then said he had suffered a seizure. He was cited for the hit-and-run, although he has not been formally charged. As secretary, Bryson has played a role as a member of the president's economic team and has worked to promote job creation. He has also advised on energy issues, particularly in the clean energy sector.