'American Idol' runner-up Willie Spence dies in a car accident at 23 years old

'American Idol' runner-up Willie Spence dies in a car accident at 23 years old
Willie Spence Performs at the Symphony Hall on Saturday, August 14, 2021, in Atlanta.Robb Cohen/Invision/AP
  • American Idol runner-up Willie Spence died in a car accident at 23 years old.
  • He died from injuries sustained in the accident, which occurred in Tennessee.

Willie Spence — the runner-up during Season 19 of "American Idol" — died in a car accident Tuesday at the age of 23.

Spence crashed in Tennessee, local news outlet Douglas Now said on Facebook, with TMZ reporting that Spence was driving home from Atlanta at the time.

Fellow "Idol" alum and mentor on Spence's season Katherine McPhee shared the news in an Instagram story late Tuesday night.

"I received very tragic news tonight," McPhee wrote. "Sweet @williespenceofficial passed away in a car accident. Only 23 years old."

"Life is so unfair and nothing is ever promised," McPhee continued, adding that it was "a pleasure to sing with you and to know you."


McPhee then shared a video Spence posted to his own Instagram account hours before the accident in which he is singing Selah's "You Are My Hiding Place."

"He posted this right before the accident," McPhee wrote.

No further details about his death or the accident have been released at this time.

Spence auditioned for American Idol two years ago singing "Diamonds" by Rihanna and earning a "yes" from all three judges.