American Idol runner-up Willie Spence dies in car accident
Singer Willie Spence has died in a car crash in the US at the age of 23.
The runner-up on American Idol’s season 19 died on Tuesday after hitting the rear of a tractor-trailer which was stopped on the hard shoulder near Chattanooga, Tennessee, according to news outlets which cited a Tennessee Highway Patrol report.
Both drivers were wearing seatbelts, and the trailer driver was not injured, the crash report said.
Katharine McPhee, who duetted with Spence on the show, confirmed the news in an Instagram story.
“I received very tragic news tonight," she said.
"Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old.”
"Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised," added McPhee, who was an Idol mentor during Spence’s season.
"God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you."
The Georgia native’s local paper DouglasNow also shared news of the popular contestant’s passing, writing on Facebook: "We extend our condolences to Willie’s family, friends, and fans.
“He was an extraordinary talent and a ray of light to millions across the world. He will be missed."
Fans, friends and fellow stars took to the late star’s Instagram to post their condolences.
A tribute was also posted on the Amerian Idol Twitter page, saying :”We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence. He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his loved ones.”
We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence. He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed. We send our condolences to his loved ones. pic.twitter.com/QWrWqf7qQN
— American Idol (@AmericanIdol) October 12, 2022
In his final Instagram post on October 11, Spence posted a video of himself singing Selah’s You Are My Hiding Place.
"Wowww my heart really hurts!" singer Ali Caldwell, who appeared on The Voice, commented.
"May you rest in paradise Willie. Such a star! And a sweet soul! You will be missed!"
Spence made his name after giving a rousing performance of Rihanna’s hit Diamonds during his Idol audition for judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan two years ago.
Soul legend Richie gave the singer a standing ovation and called him an "undeniable" star.
Spence continued to deliver fantastic performances, which led to his runners-up spot behind winner Chayce Beckham.