KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Willie Spence, a talented singer who finished second on last year’s season of “American Idol,” died Tuesday after a crash near Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was 23 years old.
A preliminary crash report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol shows Spence was driving on I-24 at around 4 p.m. when his vehicle crashed into a tractor-trailer that was stopped on the shoulder in Marion County. Both drivers were wearing seatbelts, the crash report stated.
Spence, a native of Georgia, was a contestant during the 19th season of “American Idol,” ultimately finishing in second place to Chayse Beckham during the May 2021 finale. He continued to perform after his run on the series, with a concert scheduled for next month in London, according to his Instagram account.
Actress and singer-songwriter Katharine McPhee, another American Idol runner-up who mentored Spence during his run to the last stages of the competition, posted a tribute to Spence on social media late Tuesday.
“I received very tragic news tonight,” McPhee wrote. “@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.”