“American Idol” is mourning the loss of one of their own.
Season two finalist Rickey Smith was killed in a multi-car accident Friday, May 6, in Oklahoma. He was 36, reports NBC affiliate KFOR. Following his sudden death, past competitors Ruben Studdard and Clay Aiken paid tribute to the late singer on social media.
“As I sit here in utter disbelief about the fact that you went to be with the Lord … I think back on all the fun times we had,” Studdard wrote via Instagram. “How we set up for hours in our room in the ‘Idol’ mansion talking and listening to music. How much fun we all had on our very first tour. You were the heart of our season and the true definition of a real friend. I will miss you my Friend RIP Ricky Smith. I’m sure you’re in heaven singing your heart out!!!”
Meanwhile Aiken, 37, posted heartfelt words on Twitter. “Suffice it to say my heart is truly breaking today,” tweeted Aiken. “Heaven’s choir has a new beautiful voice. I love you and will miss you, Rickey.”
According to local authorities, Smith died on a highway near Oklahoma City after a 27-year-old male driver drove his GMC pickup truck the wrong way and crashed into him. Smith, who was driving a Honda Accord, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other driver, whose name has not been disclosed at this time, was treated at a local hospital and later released into police custody. Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers believe he may have been under the influence of alcohol during the accident. However, no charges have been filed at this time.
In 2003, Smith, who auditioned in Nashville, Tennessee, performing Brian McKnight’s “One Last Cry,” came in eighth place during the second season of the show. Following his exit from the competition, he attempted to launch a music career in Los Angeles but was unsuccessful. “I wasn’t ready to accept the fact that I had to come back and give up music,” Smith told USA Today at the time he returned home to Oklahoma. “I’ve made peace with it, but it’s still frustrating.
“Oklahoma’s home anyway,” he added. “I’m a country boy.”
Sadly, Smith joins a growing list of “American Idol” alumni who’ve lost their lives over the past few years. In 2009, season eight contestant Alexis Cohen died after being struck by a car. Then in 2014, season seven finalists Michael Johns and Joanne Borgella both died.
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