WASHINGTON - Commerce Secretary John Bryson resigned Thursday, less than two weeks after suffering a seizure and having multiple car accidents in the Los Angeles area, saying he didn't want his health to be a distraction from his job.
Bryson, a 68-year-old former California utility executive, served as a member of President Barack Obama's economic team and advised the president on energy issues. He made his resignation official in a letter to Obama dated Wednesday, saying it was a "consequence of a recent seizure and a medical leave of absence."
"I have concluded that the seizure I suffered on June 9 could be a distraction from my performance as secretary, and that our country would be better served by a change in leadership," Bryson wrote.
Obama met with Bryson in the Oval Office on Thursday to thank him for his service. The president said in a statement that he had accepted the resignation and that Bryson had provided "invaluable experience and expertise" to his administration.
Bryson's resignation followed a series of traffic incidents on June 9. Authorities said Bryson was driving alone in a Lexus near Los Angeles when he struck a vehicle that had stopped for a passing train. He spoke briefly with the three occupants, and then hit their car again as he departed.
The secretary then struck a second car in a nearby city, where he was later found unconscious in his car. Commerce officials said Bryson had not suffered a seizure previously and had "limited recall" of the events involved in the crashes.
Bryson was cited for felony hit-and-run, although he has not been charged. An investigation is continuing.
Bryson took a Breathalyzer test that didn't detect any alcohol, authorities said. Investigators were awaiting results of a blood test to determine if alcohol or drugs were in Bryson's system at the time of the collisions.
Earlier this month, Bryson transferred his functions and duties as secretary to Deputy Secretary Rebecca Blank, who is now acting commerce secretary.