Willie Spence, a former finalist on ABC’s “American Idol,” died Tuesday in a car crash, according to the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He was 23.
A preliminary report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol found that Spence’s Jeep Cherokee was driving east along Interstate 24 in Marion County at about 4 p.m. Tuesday when it left the roadway and hit the back of a tractor-trailer that had pulled off onto the shoulder.
Spence, who was from Dunwoody, Georgia, was wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, the report said.
The driver of the truck was not injured. No charges have been filed in the crash, according to the report.
Spence had come in second place in Season 19 of “American Idol,” which aired last year.
In a statement posted to the “American Idol” Twitter account, the show said it was “devastated.”
“He was a true talent who lit up every room he entered and will be deeply missed,” the statement said. “We send our condolences to his loved ones.”
Luke Bryan, a country music star and judge on “American Idol,” also paid tribute to Spence on Twitter.
“Willie really did light up every room he walked into,” he wrote. “He could change the mood instantly when he started singing. He will truly be missed.”
Katharine McPhee Foster, who mentored Spence and sang with him on the show, shared the news of his death on her Instagram account late Tuesday night.
“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.”