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Grammy-Winner Was Driving the Vehicle That Hit Ben Vereen

June 11, 1992 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Grammy-winning composer and producer David Foster was at the wheel of the station wagon that hit Ben Vereen as the entertainer walked along a highway in the middle of the night.

No charges were brought against Foster in the accident Tuesday near Vereen’s Malibu home.

Vereen, best known for his portrayal of Chicken George in the miniseries ″Roots″ and his Tony Award-winning Broadway performance in ″Pippin,″ remained in critical condition today with head and internal injuries and a broken leg.

Doctors for Vereen, who was hit by Foster’s Chevrolet Suburban hours after the entertainer crashed his car, said it was too early to give a prognosis.

″His condition is unchanged. He’s still critical and in the intensive care unit. He’s conscious and communicative,″ said Mike Byrne, a spokesman for the University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center.

Foster, who lives near Vereen, was named Grammy producer of the year in February for Natalie Cole’s ″Unforgettable″ album. He has also collaborated with Michael Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Chicago and Manhattan Transfer.

The 42-year-old Foster called for help on a cellular phone and comforted the injured Vereen until paramedics arrived, Ralph Goldman, Foster’s business manager, said Wednesday. Foster was ″deeply traumatized,″ Goldman said.

Foster and Vereen had met once before, when they performed at a cystic fibrosis benefit in February, Goldman said.

Six hours before the accident and a mile away, Vereen had crashed his Corvette into a tree after falling asleep at the wheel, police said.

Vereen, 45, was taken to his manager’s house after the accident and may have been walking home when he was hit, said sheriff’s Deputy Robert Evans.

40EDT