Benjamin “Benny” Brown, a gold-medal winner in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and former NCAA champion quarter-miler for UCLA, was killed in an automobile accident Thursday. He was 42.
Brown, an assistant track coach at Cal State Fullerton the last eight years, was on his way to pick up his son from school in Ontario when he lost control of his car and struck a light pole, a family friend said Friday.
He was a member of three NCAA champion mile relay teams, in 1973, 1974 and 1975. Brown was ranked second in the United States and sixth in the world in 1975 and won his gold medal in the 1,600-meter relay in 1976.
“He was one of the greatest quarter-milers that ever lived,” said Jim Bush, Brown’s former UCLA coach.
“He got very mad at me once,” Bush said. “I put a slower runner in the mile relay and Benny got the baton when he was 50 yards behind the leader. He caught him and won the race. He told me after, ‘Don’t you ever do that again.’ I told him he ran the fastest time he ever ran the 440 [yards]. Everyone just laughed. This is a great and sad loss.”
Brown is survived by his wife, Besela, and son, Cameron, 5, of Ontario. Elders said that funeral arrangements are pending.