Rickey Smith, a Top 10 finalist from Season 2 of American Idol, was killed early Friday on a highway in Oklahoma City when his car was struck by a wrong-way driver. He was 36.
Smith was eastbound on Interstate 240 south of the city shortly after 3 a.m., when his Honda Accord was hit head-on by a pickup truck that was westbound in the eastbound lanes, according to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol report on the crash.
Smith, who was living in Oklahoma City, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the truck was identified as Gerardo Cerda Jr, 27, of Oklahoma City. He was taken to a hospital with head and internal injuries, then released and arrested.
Had the pleasure of singing w/ Rickey Smith, season 2 finalist of AI, several years back in the choir. RIP brother.https://t.co/5AtXuLSG2J
— BDC (@b_radical_) 6 мая 2016 г.
The crash report said investigators smelled the odor of alcohol on Cerda; charges are being considered.
Smith was a contestant on Idol in its second season in 2003 (when the show was at the height of its early popularity) and finished eighth. Afterwards, he stuck around Los Angeles for a couple of years to launch a music career.
"I almost had an album. I had some good people around me," Smith told USA TODAY in 2008, when he was back in Oklahoma City and tending bar — and occasionally singing — at a sports bar in the city.
"I wasn't ready to accept the fact that I had to come back and give up music," he said then. "I've made peace with it, but it's still frustrating."
Smith had performed movie music, Motown hits, country rock and even disco, when he put on a fake Afro to sing Let's Groove. But call-in viewers were indifferent to his rendition of Lionel Richie's Endless Love; the then-23-year-old student teacher was cut from the finals on April 9, 2003.
When he competed in 2003, Smith hailed from Keene, Texas, but his heart belonged in Oklahoma.
"Oklahoma's home anyway," he says. "I'm a country boy."