U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson was cited with a hit-and-run violation over the weekend in a controversy that could cost him his cabinet position as well as his freedom. Bryson is accused of hitting one car that was waiting for a train to pass and then hitting a second car on his way home. He was found unconscious in his vehicle and hospitalized. It is standard not to arrest a suspect if he is hospitalized. There is no report of alcohol or drugs being involved in the incidents, which occurred in the early evening.
Bryson was driving a Lexus around 5 pm when he allegedly rear-ended a Buick at a train crossing. He reportedly stopped to speak with the three men in the Buick. However, he struck the Buick a second time on his way out and was followed by the men (who called 911). He allegedly crashed into a second vehicle near an intersection and was found unconscious near that scene.
The facts of the incident do not fit a conventional hit and run. The absence of alcohol or drugs and his stopping at the first accident distinguish the case. There is a possible defense. Some concussions are not immediately evident to a victim, who can function for a short time. He may also claim that he was afraid of the men in the Buick and was leaving for his own safety. There is also the possibility that the second hit on the first car was so minor that he did not notice it before proceeding on his way. However, on its face, it looks pretty bad. The police say that he is cooperating so he must have spoken with them — yet, they proceeded to charge him with hit-and-run.
Bryson was chairman of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison for 18 years until 2008. At one time, before his business career, Bryson was an environmental lawyer and, to his credit, he was a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council. The NRDC is credited with a number of major environmental litigation victories.
Unless there is a strong medical defense, it will be hard for Bryson to hold on to his cabinet position — particularly in an election year. This is of course a terrible time for Obama to lose a commerce secretary in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis. It would also put his replacement in the unenviable position of seeking confirmation in an election year.
Source: LA Times