After seizure, commerce secretary causes two car accidents

Over the weekend, John Bryson, who serves as the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, caused two car crashes. The accidents occurred in short succession while he was driving his own car during time off from work. Reports indicate that he struck one vehicle from behind as it was paused in front of an at-grade railroad intersection. According to the occupants of the rear-ended car, Bryson exited his vehicle, checked on them and then drove off, but not before striking their car a second time.

They called law enforcement authorities, who reported that Bryson was involved in another car accident not far away. Emergency responders transported him from the scene to a local hospital, where he was diagnosed as having suffered a seizure during the car crash. Police have ruled out the role of alcohol or drugs in the accident.

Every driver has a duty to act in a reasonably prudent manner behind the wheel. When a crash occurs, it may indicate that the driver breached that duty. But what happens when something presumably beyond the driver’s control, such as a seizure, causes an accident? Often the answer depends on whether drivers know beforehand that they are susceptible to a condition that would render them unable to keep their vehicle under control.

There has been no indication yet that Secretary Bryson has a history of seizures. Law enforcement stated that they have begun an investigation into the crashes. Police have charged him with felony hit-and-run in connection with the two accidents, however.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Commerce agency: Secretary John Bryson had seizure linked to crashes,” Andrew Blankstein and Kate Mather, June 11, 2012.