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Willie Spence: American Idol runner-up dies in car crash at the age of 23

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American Idol runner-up Willie Spence has died in a car crash in the US.

The 23-year-old singer lost his life after his Jeep Cherokee ‘left the roadway’ and collided with the back of a tractor-trailer that was stopped on the hard shoulder near Chattanooga, Tennessee, said a report from the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the Marion County medical examiner.

Spence, who was from Georgia, finished second to Chayce Beckham on season 19 of American Idol last year.

Both Spence and the driver of the tractor-trailer, who is 68 years old, were wearing seat belts, according to the report.

Marion County medical examiner Barbara O’Neal said the cause of death was “multisystem trauma due to motor vehicle accident” and that Spence was pronounced dead at the scene on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Highway Patrol said the agency is investigating why Spence’s car veered off the road.

The singing competition show released a statement saying Spence “was a true talent who lit up every room he entered”.

The statement said: “We are devastated about the passing of our beloved American Idol family member, Willie Spence.

“We send our condolences to his loved ones.”

Fellow American Idol star Alyssa Wray said she was “so heartbroken” in a post on Instagram and described Spence as a “soul that people were drawn to”.

Spence’s journey on the show began with an audition performance of Diamonds by Rihanna, during his audition in front of judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan.

Hours before the crash, Spence posted a video of himself singing You Are My Hiding Place on his Instagram page. Many people have left tributes underneath his latest post.

Spence was due to perform in London next month, according to a post on his Instagram.

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