Rickey Smith, a singer who crooned his way into the finals on Season 2 of American Idol, was killed in a car crash on Friday. Smith was four days away from his 37th birthday.
The Los Angeles Times reports via local Oklahoma City news that a wrong-way collision killed Smith at the crash site and sent the other driver to the hospital, before he was taken to jail for a DUI.
After a few years living in Los Angeles and working on his music career, Smith returned to Oklahoma City in the years after American Idol, reports Us Weekly. He was working in a local sports bar when he last spoke with the press.
But his move home didn’t change everything for Smith, who still got recognized around town. “Anywhere I go,” Smith said, “They tell me I’m still a celebrity. I appreciate that.”
Fans and friends are sharing their love for Smith and shock at the sad circumstances of his death. Former American Idol castmate Clay Aiken is mourning Smith on Twitter, writing, “Suffice it to say my heart is truly breaking today. Heaven’s choir has a new beautiful voice. I love you and will miss you, Rickey.”
Suffice it to say my heart is truly breaking today. 💔 Heaven's choir has a new beautiful voice. I love you and will miss you, Rickey. 💔
— Clay Aiken (@clayaiken) May 6, 2016
American Idol judge Ruben Studdard also expressed his “utter disbelief” at the accident.
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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. 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 you're heart out!!!