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Washington - U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson, under investigation for his role in two car crashes on the same day this month, said on Thursday he was resigning to prevent distractions at the department he led for less than a year.
Police in southern California said they found Bryson unconscious behind the wheel of his Lexus on June 9 after he crashed into one car twice, left the scene of the accident and collided with another vehicle.
At least one crash has been investigated as a felony hit-and-run.
Police said Bryson, a 68-year-old former energy company executive brought into the administration to reach out to business, was alone at the time and there was no indication that alcohol or drugs played a role in the collisions.
Commerce Department officials said Bryson suffered a seizure, but could not say whether it happened before or after the accidents.
Amid speculation about his health and future in the administration, Bryson took a leave of absence to undergo medical tests and evaluation.
Although there was no word on Thursday on the results of those tests, Bryson informed President Barack Obama in a letter on Wednesday he had decided to resign.
“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 at the department,” Bryson said.
Obama, who was due to met with Bryson on Thursday afternoon, thanked him in a statement for his service.
“As secretary, John fought tirelessly for our nation's businesses and workers, helping to bolster our exports and promote American manufacturing and products at home and abroad,” Obama said.
The president said Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, who has served as acting commerce secretary since last week, would continue in that position.
Police in San Gabriel, California, declined to comment on the case on Wednesday except to say that it remained under investigation and that nothing had been presented to the Los Angeles County district attorney. - Reuters