US Commerce Secretary John Bryson may face felony hit and run charges after allegedly causing two traffic collisions in Los Angeles that his office said were the result of his suffering a seizure, officials said Monday.
"He was taken to the hospital for examination and remained overnight for observation. He was released and has returned to Washington," said Jennifer Friedman, Director of Public Affairs for the Commerce Department.
A department official told FOX News Channel that the agency cannot confirm the timing of the seizure or the sequence of events. The official noted that Bryson was alone and does not remember much of what occurred.
The 68-year-old was driving alone in San Gabriel, Calif., when he allegedly rear-ended a car occupied by three men that had stopped for a train to pass Saturday evening, a joint statement from the San Gabriel Police Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
Bryson spoke to the men and left the scene, but allegedly hit their car again as he drove away. The three men
followed him and called 911 for assistance.
He then allegedly caused another collision in nearby Rosemead, when he hit a car occupied by a man and a woman.
Officers found him alone and unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus. He was treated at the scene by paramedics and taken to the hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
San Gabriel Police Lt. Ariel Duran told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, "He was just really confused."
The secretary was cited for felony hit and run but police took him to the hospital for treatment rather than arresting him.
The Commerce Department official told FOX that Bryson has not had a seizure before. He was back in his Washington office on Monday and remains in touch with his doctors.
Bryson was sworn in as commerce secretary in October last year.- His nomination had been delayed for months over Republican criticism of his environmental views.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the president has not spoken with Bryson since the accident. He said White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew had spoken with Bryson, but did not reveal details of that conversation.
He referred most questions about the accident to the Commerce Department, including whether Bryson is on medical leave or is able to fulfill his duties as secretary.
The incident is the latest in a streak of negative headlines for Obama's re-election campaign. Last week's news cycle was dominated by the recent jump in the unemployment rate, compounded by Obama's Friday gaffe that the private sector is "doing fine."
Obama's administration is also under fire after recent leaks of classified information, with Attorney General Eric Holder assigning two US attorneys to lead criminal investigations into the unauthorized disclosures.
Senior Obama adviser David Axelrod acknowledged Monday during an interview with "CBS This Morning" that the news of Bryson's accidents was "concerning," but dismissed the suggestion that it may cause more headaches for the re-election campaign.