Rickey Smith, the “America Idol” Season 2 finalist who died early Friday in a freeway crash near Oklahoma City, is being remembered by the “Idol” family, including executive producer Nigel Lythgoe and Season 3 winner Fantasia Barrino.
Barrino recalled Smith as being a “beautiful spirit.”
“Rest In Peace Rickey Smith. The world lost a beautiful spirit,” she wrote on Twitter. “Prayers to his family.”
Smith died at age 36 after a pickup truck driving the wrong way on a freeway collided head-on with his car. Police reportedly detected the odor of alcohol on the truck driver, and a spokesman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol told TheWrap that it is conferring with the district attorney’s office about possible charges for the driver.
“How sad that Rickey Smith’s talented life was taken by a #drunkdriver,” Lythgoe said on Twitter. “He was part of the #AmericanIdolFamily and will always be remembered.”
In a joint statement, “American Idol,” Fox, series distributor FremantleMedia North America and producer 19 Entertainment said they were “deeply saddened” by White’s death.
“We are deeply saddened by the news of Rickey’s passing,” they said. “He was a part of our ‘American Idol’ family and our hearts and thoughts go out to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”
Smith competed in the 2003 season against rivals including Clay Aiken and Ruben Studdard. Studdard eventually won the competition.
Aiken tweeted about the death Friday morning.
“Suffice it to say my heart is truly breaking today,” Aiken wrote. “Heaven’s choir has a new beautiful voice. I love you and will miss you, Rickey.”
Studdard offered his own tribute via Instagram.
“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,” Studdard recalled. “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.”