Caleb Kennedy, Former ‘American Idol’ Singer, Charged With DUI in Crash – Billboard


Former American Idol top five finalist Caleb Kennedy has been charged with DUI in a fatal crash in which he allegedly hit a man inside a building with his Ford pick-up truck. According to a statement from the South Carolina Highway Patrol, on Tuesday (Feb. 8), a man inside the residential building sustained a fatal injury when the truck driven by Kennedy drove onto a private driveway and struck the structure. WYFT reported that the victim, Larry Duane Parris, 54, was pronounced dead at a local hospital three hours after the crash.


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The driver, identified as Kennedy, 17, was charged with felony DUI resulting in death; at press time a spokesperson for the South Carolina Highway Patrol said no further information was available as the crash is still under investigation. Kennedy is expected in court for a hearing on Wednesday (Feb. 9) morning, according to WYFT.

Kennedy washed out of the top 5 on season 19 of Idol last year after a video surfaced of the singer sitting next to a friend wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan hood. At the time, Kennedy posted a video saying he was leaving the show because of the controversy kicked up by the clip.

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” the  then-16-year-old singer tweeted last May. “There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way. I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down.”

“I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me,” his note continued. “I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me.”

Kennedy’s mom, Anita Gay, spoke to South Carolina’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal at the time, telling her local paper that the video was made when Kennedy was 12-years-old and that he and his friends were imitating a horror movie, not the KKK. “I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” Guy told the paper. “This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie The Strangers: Prey at Night and they were imitating those characters. It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks. Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”

At press time a spokesperson for Kennedy could not be reached for comment. Kennedy released the single “Raised on Dirt,” last year.

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