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Ex-band leader accused in hit-run

A retired Florida A&M University band director who faces charges in a hit-and-run accident had no idea he struck someone with his car, even though he drove home with the victim's hair and blood on his windshield, his lawyer said.

William P. Foster, 81, whose 52 years as FAMU band director earned him international acclaim and a place in the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, was charged Tuesday with leaving the scene of a crash with injuries, a third-degree felony.

Police say Foster hit Robert Safford, 81, as Safford was crossing a Tallahassee street Aug. 10. His injuries included a broken right leg, chipped bones in his back and cuts to his scalp, reports said.

A tip led police to Foster, who told investigators he was driving to an appointment with an eye doctor when he heard a bump "and thought maybe children were throwing rocks," a report said. He noticed the damage to his windshield the next day and called his insurance company.

"He didn't know he hit someone," said his attorney, Daryl D. Parks. "That's been his position all along, and Dr. Foster has an impeccable character. No one would accuse him of dealing in untruths."

Police said the victim's hair "and what appeared to be blood was visible on the windshield" when they inspected Foster's car three days later. DNA tests matched the hair and tissue to the victim.

Foster has been released on his own recognizance.

Foster retired as band director in 1998. Under his leadership, FAMU's "Marching 100" became widely regarded as one of the most entertaining college marching bands in the country.

In 1989, the band was chosen as the official U.S. representative in the Bastille Day parade in Paris, and it performed during the 1993 and 1997 inaugural parades for former President Clinton and at two Super Bowls.

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