Former American Idol star Willie Spence has died at age 23 after sustaining injuries from a car accident in Tennessee, a relative confirmed to TMZ.

Douglas Now, a local publication from Spence’s hometown in Georgia, first reported the news of his death. “American Idol Season 19 runner-up, Willie Spence, 23, has passed away due to injuries sustained in an automobile accident in Tennessee,” the publication wrote via Facebook. “We extend our condolences to Willie’s family, friends and fans. He was an extraordinary talent and a ray of light to millions across the world. He will be missed.”

Just 18 hours before his death, Spence shared a hauntingly beautiful video of himself singing the worship song “You Are My Hiding Place” by Selah while in a car. 

The comment section of his last video was flooded with Spence’s heartbroken friends and fans. “I am so at a loss for words. Not you, Willie!  Wow … rest in paradise, king,” one user wrote while someone else added, “Fly and sing with the angels and dance amongst the stars, friend.”

American Idol released an official statement about Spence’s passing via Instagram. “We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence,” the statement read on October 12. “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.”

Fellow American Idol alum Katharine Foster (née McPhee) took to her Instagram Stories to share the “very tragic news,” writing, “Sweet [Willie Spence] passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old. Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised.”

“God rest your soul, Willie,” the Scorpion actress, 38, continued in her post, in which she included a clip of her and Willie together on the reality singing show. “It was a pleasure to sing with you and to know you.” 

Film producer Randall Emmett also publicly mourned Spence while sending his condolences via his Instagram Story.

“My heart is broken and my prayers go out to his family,” the former Vanderpump Rules star wrote to caption 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.”

Spence made a name for himself after being crowned the runner-up for season 19 of American Idol. Although the grand prize ultimately went to Chayce Beckham, fans were obsessed with Spence’s renditions of “Georgia on My Mind,” “A Change Is Gonna Come” and “Stand Up.”

Although he did not win, Spence said at the time that he was “honored and grateful” to have made it so far in the competition, adding, “You know, it’s kind of surreal.”

He was not going to let the idea of losing the competition keep him from pursuing his dreams. “I still want to continue with my music and my career,” Spence continued. “I want to continue recording hopefully go on tour one day and be able to sell my music. Like I said at my audition, hopefully, be able to win a Grammy one day.”

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