US commerce secretary John Bryson resigns

Barack Obama (L) stands with John Bryson, after nominating him to be the next Commerce Secretary, on 31 May 2011 John Bryson took up the post in October 2011

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A US cabinet member who was found slumped at the wheel of his car after three crashes in California earlier this month has resigned.

Commerce Secretary John Bryson announced he was standing down in a letter to department employees.

He went on medical leave after the collisions, which were said to have been caused by a seizure.

Police described one of the crashes, which took place on a Saturday in June, as a hit-and-run.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office said on Thursday that the incident was still under investigation, although no case has been presented for review.

'Limited recall'

Mr Bryson, a 68-year-old former utility executive, took a breath test after the crashes that did not detect alcohol. Police said there was no indication that drugs had played a role either.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, he said: "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."

Mr Obama said he had accepted Mr Bryson's resignation letter on Wednesday evening, extending his "deepest thanks and appreciation to John for his service over the past months".

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The president is expected to meet the former secretary in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon to thank him for his service.

In the first collision on 9 June, Mr Bryson's Lexus hit a Buick in the city of San Gabriel.

He spoke to three male occupants of the vehicle and left the scene, but apparently hit the car again as he did so, said police.

The Buick then followed Mr Bryson's Lexus and the occupants called for police assistance.

A few minutes later, Mr Bryson was involved in another collision with a Honda as his car crossed into the nearby city of Rosemead. He was found alone and unconscious behind the wheel.

Commerce officials said Mr Bryson had not previously suffered a seizure and had "limited recall of the event".

Usually a good public speaker, Mr Bryson stumbled over words and lost his place while delivering a speech at a high school two days before the traffic accidents, the Los Angeles Times reported.

His deputy, Rebecca Blank, has stood in for him during his leave as acting secretary.

Mr Bryson had served in the post for less than one year, replacing Gary Locke, who was named US ambassador to China.

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