Willie Spence / Facebook
Season 19 American Idol runner-up Willie Spence passed away in a car accident on Tuesday (October 11).
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WSBTV (Atlanta) reported 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.
Willie’s family held a press conference in Riviera Beach, Florida outside of his grandmother’s house and spoke about him.
“Willie was our gentle giant. He had such a soft demeanor but a very, very powerful voice. When he opened his mouth and lifted the Lord in song, many would just stop in their tracks to listen to him. Now Willie is in heaven, singing the lead in the heaven’s choir,” said Sabrena Cooper, Spence’s cousin.
The family also spoke with TMZ, where they revealed what they believe caused the fatal car accident. They said he was leaving homecoming weekend at Tennessee State University before the crash. Because of the festivities, there has been speculation that alcohol was a factor in the crash.
But, his family told the publication that he is not a drinker. They believe that he was “severely fatigued” from the tiring weekend and may have fallen asleep at the wheel.
TMZ also reports that the vehicle he crashed into on the shoulder was a tractor trailer, and that he was heading to Atlanta for an important meeting, which he had told his mother about the day before the accident.
No official cause of the accident has been released. Our prayers continue to be with Willie’s family.
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