Ex-‘American Idol’ contestant Caleb Kennedy, age 17, charged in fatal DUI crash

American Age Official
Caleb Kennedy at his 2021 'American Idol' audition. (Photo: Christopher Willard via Getty Images)

Caleb Kennedy at his 2021 ‘American Idol’ audition. (Photo: Christopher Willard via Getty Images)

Disgraced former American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy, who was disqualified from the show’s 19th season after an old racist social media post resurfaced online, is back in the news less than a year later for another shocking reason.

According to multiple local news reports in Kennedy’s hometown of Spartanburg, S.C., the country singer-songwriter has been charged with felony driving under the influence resulting in death, after crashing his truck into a workshop in Spartanburg County. The news of Kennedy’s arrest first broke on Twitter Tuesday evening, via a post by Fox Carolina reporter Cody Alcorn.

According to Fox Carolina and WSPA TV, South Carolina Highway Patrol troopers have confirmed that the crash occurred around 12:41 p.m. Tuesday, when Kennedy drove his 2011 Ford pickup onto a private driveway on West Murph Road and ran into a building on the property. A 54-year-old man inside the building, later identified by the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office as Larry Duane Parris, was struck by Kennedy’s vehicle and transported to Spartanburg Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries. Kennedy was reportedly also injured and taken to the hospital.

Last year, Kennedy made it to the top five on American Idol and was considered a frontrunner, but with only two weeks left in the season, he suddenly departed the show, after a video circulated of him sitting next to someone wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood. The disturbing clip, reportedly a Snapchat post from when Kennedy was age 12, went viral when YouTube comedian and talk show host DefNoodles tweeted it to his 127,000 followers. While Kennedy’s mother claimed that the three-second video had been taken out of context, Kennedy apologized for letting down his fans, saying, “I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect!” Two months later, he conducted an interview with the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, saying he “wasn’t ready” for the pressures of reality TV fame, but was continuing to work on music now that he was back home.

As of this writing, Kennedy is being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center, awaiting a bond hearing set for Wednesday morning. If the 17-year-old is tried as an adult and convicted, he faces up to 25 years in prison.

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