‘American Idol’ contestant Rickey Smith, dead at 36

Members of the audience applaud during a dress rehearsal for the March 24, 2016 episode of American Idol at CBS Television City in Hollywood.
(Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times)

Tragedy struck the "American Idol" family Friday, as KOCO-TV out of Oklahoma City reported "Idol" contestant Rickey Smith was killed in a wrong-way collision in the early morning hours. 

Smith finished eighth in the second season of Fox’s landmark reality singing competition in 2003. Smith advanced from the semifinal round with his rendition of Brian McKnight’s “One Last Cry” and was eliminated from competition with his performance of Diana Ross and Lionel Richie’s “Endless Love.”

Ruben Studdard went on to win the season, narrowly defeating Clay Aiken.

Both Aiken and Studdard have expressed grief over the loss of Smith online.

According to reports, a pickup was driving the wrong way down Interstate 240 in south Oklahoma City before crashing into Smith’s Honda Accord head-on. Though Smith was killed in the crash, the driver of the pickup was taken to an area hospital before being taken to jail. Officials said Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers detected alcohol on the breath of the driver.

Smith died just four days shy of his 37th birthday.


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