“American Idol” Willie Spence died after a car accident on Tuesday. The singer, who was from Georgia, was driving eastbound on Interstate 24 in a 2019 Jeep Cherokee.
When he went off the road and crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer that was stopped on the shoulder around 4 p.m. local time, according to the accident report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He was wearing a seatbelt.
The driver of the tractor-trailer, who is 68 years old, was wearing seat belts, according to the report. A spokesperson for the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the agency is investigating why Spence’s car veered off the road.
The official social media account for “American Idol” paid tribute to Spence, who was runner-up on season 19 of the singing competition show in 2021, by sharing his audition of “Diamonds” by Rihanna.
Marion County Medical Examiner Barbara O’Neal said the cause of death was “multisystem trauma due to motor vehicle accident” and that Spence was pronounced dead at the scene.
“American Idol” judge Katy Perry reacted to the news in the comments, writing, “I love you Willie… purest soul. Sing with the angels my darling.”
“Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised,” she wrote. “God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.”
Chayce Beckham, who won against Spence on season 19, shared a lengthy tribute to his Instagram, writing, “It’s hard to find the words to say here, other than I loved Willie very much.
He was a good sweet soul, and a warm beam of light in a cold and dark world that needed him so much.”
“I just want my voice to reach the world and just share my gift — hopefully winning a Grammy one day, that’s where I see myself in five years,” Spence told the judges at the audition. “It’s gonna take hard work, but I feel like I can do it.”