“Idol” Champion Mourns The Loss Of Runner-Up Willie Spence

Chayce Beckham / Instagram

The American Idol family is in mourning, as it was announced that one of their own has passed away unexpectedly at the age of 23.

Season 19 runner-up Willie Spence stole America’s hearts with his soulful voice and big personality. Idol alumni Katharine McPhee Foster joined him at one point in the competition to mentor him and duet to the English version of “The Prayer,” which was co-written by Katharine’s husband, David Foster.

Katharine broke the news of Willie’s death on her Instagram story, writing, “I received very tragic news tonight. Sweet @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.”

Katharine McPhee Foster / Instagram

The singer-actress also shared Willie’s last Instagram post which was made at 1:30pm local time. It was a video of him singing “You Are My Hiding Place,” and she says he posted it “right before his accident.”

WSBTV (Atlanta) just released details on Willie’s car crash, reporting that the crash occurred around 4pm on I-24 east near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

“Spence was driving a Jeep Cherokee when he went off the road and crashed into a car that was stopped on the shoulder, according to the accident report. That driver, identified as 68-year-old Raymond Kresl, was not injured,” WSBTV reported.

On American Idol, Willie came in second place to Chayce Beckham during Season 19. The famed singing competition series released a statement on social media.

Their statement read:

“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.”

The one person who probably spent the most time with Spence during American Idol is the champion Chayce Beckham. While many of their co-stars took to Instagram stories to write a short blurb about Willie, Chayce posted a video of one of Willie’s most powerful performances, as well as a series of photos to his Instagram and wrote a lengthy and emotional tribute to his friend.

He wrote:

“It’s hard to find the words to say here, other than I loved Willie very much. He was a good sweet soul, and a warm beam of light in a cold and dark world that needed him so much. When willie sang I swear it would shake a whole room. I think Willie had a voice that God gave him specifically to spread his message, when Willie sang gospel it could make you cry. Willie also had a laugh that could make you melt, an honest humor you couldn’t help but love, and the biggest heart you could imagine all wrapped up into one human. His larger than life energy was infectious and I loved being around him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and fans, who I know he loved so much, and who he held close to his heart. I can’t wait to sing with you in Paradise, where I know I’ll see you again. Rest In Peace brother.”

Sending love and prayers to Chayce, and Willie’s friends and family, during this tragic time.

Swipe through Chayce’s post below to see all the photos he shared.

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