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HOME > American Idol > American Idol 2

Rickey Smith, former 'American Idol' finalist, dead at age 36

By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 05/06/2016 

Rickey Smith has tragically died at age 36.

The former second-season American Idol finalist was killed in a car accident on Thursday right outside of Oklahoma City, USA Today reported.

Smith was traveling on the highway when another driver slammed into his vehicle head-on. The driver held responsible for the accident, Gerardo Cerda Jr, was taken to a nearby hospital with head and internal injuries before being arrested for DUI because he had alcohol on his breath.

Smith was reportedly headed eastbound on Interstate 240 south of the city shortly after 3AM when his Honda Accord was struck by the 27-year-old's pickup truck that was westbound in the eastbound lanes, according to the newspaper. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

Smith made the Top 8 on American Idol back in 2003 -- which was the year Ruben Studdard won and Clay Aiken finished in second place. Smith had a Brian McKnight type of vibe, and at the time, the R&B singer was reportedly working at a sports bar in Oklahoma City where he'd sing "Happy Birthday" to patrons.

Smith stayed in Los Angeles for a few years after his Idol stint in attempt to make it big in the music industry, however, he quickly learned how challenging that can be.

"I almost had an album," Smith previously told USA Today, "I had some good people around me... I wasn't ready to accept the fact that I had to come back and give up music. I've made peace with it, but it's still frustrating."

However, Smith appreciated the fact his neighbors and friends still treated him like a celebrity.

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