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Two of Gov. Jerry Brown's official seals were in the care of a Republican legislative staffer after a car belonging to Brown's chief deputy press secretary, Elizabeth Ashford, was totaled in a crash on Saturday near the Capitol.

The Democratic governor's shiny seals - affixed to podiums at public events - were in a suitcase in the trunk of Ashford's silver Honda Accord when the driver of an oncoming vehicle ran a red light at 10th and N streets about 6 p.m., striking Ashford's car, said Ashford and Trisha Richins, acting director of member services for the Assembly Republican Caucus.

Before being loaded into an ambulance, Ashford said she told firefighters, "Listen, there's this suitcase in the back of the car."

Richins, who saw the crash and stopped to help, said firefighters were putting the suitcase into the ambulance with Ashford when she offered to take it for her, worried it might otherwise be lost.

A firefighter remarked on the bipartisan spirit of it all, Richins said.

So did Ashford.

"She was reaching across party lines," Ashford said, "as they're loading me onto the ambulance."

Richins said Sunday evening that the seals are unharmed and will be returned to the governor's office today. Ashford, who was treated and released Saturday, said, "I'm a little banged up, but I'm OK."

The Sacramento Police Department did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.



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