Former American Idol finalist Rickey Smith was killed on Friday in a car accident in Oklahoma. The season two contestant died after his vehicle was struck head-on by a suspected drunk driver. Rickey Smith finished in eighth place on American Idol in 2003. His death was mourned on social media by his fellow season two contestants.
According to police reports, Smith was driving eastbound on Interstate 240 in Oklahoma City just after 3 a.m. A driver in a pickup truck going the wrong way, westbound in the eastbound lane, struck his vehicle head-on. Smith was declared dead at the scene. Officers on site reported smelling alcohol on the breath of the man driving the truck, later identified as Gerardo Cerda Jr., 27, of Oklahoma City.
Following the crash, the suspected drunk driver was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries, and then arrested and booked into custody after his release. Charges are currently pending.
Former American Idol contestants and judges took to social media to express their grief over his loss. He was remembered for being a sweet, kind guy with a big heart and a gorgeous voice.
“As I sit here in utter disbelief about the fact that you went to be with the Lord. I think back on all the fun times we had,” Ruben Studdard posted on Instagram. “How we set up for hours in our room in the Idol Mansion talking and listening to music. How much fun we all had on our very first tour. You were the heart of our season and the true definition of a real friend.. I will miss you my Friend RIP Ricky Smith. I’m sure you’re in heaven singing you’re heart out!!!”
“I know he’s already singing loudly in Heaven and waking up the other angels with his beautiful voice,” Clay Aiken posted on Twitter. “Suffice it to say my heart is truly breaking today. Heaven’s choir has a new beautiful voice. I love you and will miss you, Rickey.”
Kimberly Caldwell posted that her “heart is broken that we lost my dear angel Rickey. He was one-of-a-kind. I have never met anyone that could brighten your world like he did.”
“Terribly #sad today,” Kimberly Locke said on Twitter. “The @AmericanIdol family has suffered a great loss. #RIPRickeySmith”
“I’m shocked & deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Ricky Smith,” American Idol judge Paula Abdul posted. “I send my sincerest condolences to his family.”
Rickey Smith was just 36 at the time of his death, and leaves behind a girlfriend and young daughter. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family with funeral costs.