Former “American Idol” finalist Rickey E. Smith Jr. was killed Friday morning in a car crash in Oklahoma, Variety has confirmed. Smith was 36.
Smith was involved in a multi-car, wrong-way collision on I-240 just outside Oklahoma City at around 3:15 a.m. According to Oklahoma Highway Patrol Capt. Paul Timmons, 27-year-old Gerardo Cerda Jr. was traveling in a pickup truck headed westbound in the eastbound lanes, and slammed head-on into Smith’s vehicle.
Smith died on the scene of multiple blunt force injuries, according to the Oklahoma Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
Cerda was treated for injuries at a hospital and released. He now faces DUI charges.
The eastbound interstate was shut down for more than three hours after the accident, but has since been opened.
“OKC: I-240 east bound at Penn is still closed due to an injury collision,” the Oklahoma Highway Patrol tweeted early this morning.
Smith appeared on Ruben Studdard’s season of “American Idol” (Season 2), finishing in eighth place. Smith was honored by the state of Oklahoma in 2003 for his performance on the show.
Studdard wrote on Instagram that he was in “utter disbelief” following the news.
“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. 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!”