‘American Idol’ finalist dies in vehicle crash

Oct 12, 2022, 9:03 AM | Updated: 11:56 am
This image released by ABC shows contestant Willie Spence on the singing competition series "Americ...

This image released by ABC shows contestant Willie Spence on the singing competition series "American Idol" in Los Angeles on May 2, 2021. Spence, 23, died Tuesday after hitting the rear of a tractor-trailer that was stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 24 East near Chattanooga, according to news outlets, which cited a Tennessee Highway Patrol report. (Eric McCandless/ABC via AP)

(Eric McCandless/ABC via AP)

JASPER, Tenn. (AP) — A finalist on “American Idol” has died in a vehicle crash in Tennessee.

Willie Spence, 23, died Tuesday after hitting the rear of a tractor-trailer that was stopped on the shoulder of Interstate 24 East near Chattanooga, according to news outlets, which cited a Tennessee Highway Patrol report.

Both drivers were wearing seatbelts, and the truck driver wasn’t injured, the crash report said.

Spence, who was from Georgia, finished in second place on season 19 of “American Idol” last year.

The singing competition show released a statement on social media, saying Spence “was a true talent who lit up every room he entered.”

We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence,” the statement reads. “We send our condolences to his loved ones.”

Singer Luke Bryan, a judge on the show, said Spence “could change the mood instantly when he started singing.”

“He will truly be missed,” Bryan said on Twitter.

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‘American Idol’ finalist dies in vehicle crash