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.
American Idol tweeted: “We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence. 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.”
And 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,” she 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.”