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David Foster’s 911 Emergency Call Shows He Thought Ben Vereen was Dying

June 13, 1992

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Record producer David Foster didn’t immediately recognize entertainer Ben Vereen after striking him with his car, although the two knew each other, according to an audio tape.

Vereen, who was walking along the Pacific Coast Highway when he was struck by Foster’s truck early Tuesday, remained in critical condition early today at University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center.

Foster and Vereen, who are neighbors in Malibu, recently worked together during an AIDS benefit, but Foster didn’t recognize the man he hit on the dark, hilly section of highway.

Foster said the man he hit ″looks like maybe he’s a homeless person,″ according to the tape of his conversation with a California Highway Patrol operator. The tape was obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

Vereen ″walked right in front of my car,″ a stunned Foster told the operator over his cellular phone.

He later told the operator: ″He’s breathing, but he’s not in good shape. I think he’s going to die.″

The hospital has been deluged with hundreds of calls and telegrams from well-wishers, including Liza Minnelli, Frank Sinatra, Janet Jackson, Red Skelton and Richard Pryor, said hospital spokesman Richard Elbaum.

Vereen, 45, may be best-known for his performance in the mini-series ″Roots″ and his Tony-winning role in Broadway’s ″Pippin.″

Deputy Robert Evans, lead investigator in the accident, said ″Foster did everything he could do″ to avoid hitting Vereen, who was apparently walking from his manager’s beach house to his Point Dume home five miles away.

Foster, a Grammy-winning composer and producer who has collaborated with Barbra Streisand and Michael Jackson, has been in seclusion since the crash.

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