“American Idol” runner-up Willie Spence died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a car accident. He was 23.
The talented crooner was in Tennessee at the time of the accident, local news outlet Douglas Now reported.
“We are devastated about the passing of our beloved ‘American Idol’ family member, Willie Spence,” the show said in a statement via Twitter. “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.”
Katharine McPhee, who performed a duet with Spence during his Season 19 appearance, posted videos mourning him on her Instagram Story.
“I received very tragic news tonight,” she wrote above a video of her and Spence meeting. “Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised.
“God rest your soul Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.”
McPhee, 38, added a series of broken-heart emojis and also reposted the last video Spence shared, which shows him belting out a Christian song in a car, right before the accident.
“He posted this right before the accident [sobbing emoji],” she added.
Fans and followers flooded Spence’s post with comments about the tragic accident.
“Fly and sing with the angels and dance amongst the stars friend! RIH 🥺🕊️✨,” commented one.
“My heart is broken and my prayers go out to his family,” he wrote over a photo of Spence. “I was lucky to have him sing for me live at my home and other events, I will miss you my friend. I know you touched so many of us. I’m heart broken.”
During the Season 19 finale, Spence sang “Georgia on My Mind,” “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Stand Up.” Though the judges were moved by his performance, Spence received fewer votes than Chayce Beckham, who became the American Idol.
Former ‘American Idol’ contestant Willie Spence dies in car crash at 23
Former “American Idol” finalist Willie Spence died Tuesday from injuries sustained in a car crash in Tennessee, according to Georgia news outlet Douglas Now. He was 23.
The fan-favorite “Idol” contestant was the runner-up in the competition program‘s 19th season last year. Chayce Beckham was the winner.
Fellow “American Idol” alum Katharine McPhee, who mentored and performed with Spence during Season 19, mourned the singer Tuesday on Instagram.
“I received very tragic news tonight,” McPhee wrote. “Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised. God rest your soul, Willie. It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.”
The “Smash” star also shared a video that Spence posted on Instagram “right before his accident.” In the clip, Spence passionately belts Selah’s “You Are My Hiding Place” in his car.
During his “American Idol” audition, the vocalist from Douglas, Ga., blew the celebrity judges away with a powerful rendition of Rihanna‘s “Diamonds.” After giving him a standing ovation, Lionel Richie hailed Spence as an “undeniable star,” while Luke Bryan deemed him “a special human being.”
“You, my friend, are so gifted,” Richie said. “On the first note, I had chills. ... That was an enjoyable session to watch.”
In April 2021, Spence released his debut EP, “The Voice,” followed by singles “Never Be Alone” and “The Living Years.”
“I just want my voice to reach the world and share my gift,” he told the judges at his “Idol” audition.
“Hopefully winning a Grammy one day, that’s where I see myself in five years. ... It’s going to take hard work, but I think I can do it.”