Former American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy has been charged with felony DUI after he allegedly drove his car into a building in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, killing one person.
Kennedy, 17, was arrested by South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) officers just after 12 p.m. ET after he allegedly ran off of the road while driving a 2011 Ford pickup truck and careened into a private driveway. It was then that he drove into the workshop of a nearby building, striking and killing a man who was working inside, according to information sent by the SCHP to Newsweek.
The deceased victim was identified by the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office as 54-year-old Larry Duane Parris.
It is unknown if any other vehicles were involved in the accident, although the SCHP has not yet identified any further victims. It has also not been announced whether Kennedy was under the influence of alcohol or a different substance.
He was officially charged with felony DUI resulting in death. As a 17-year-old, he is eligible to be tried as an adult in the state of South Carolina.
A public information officer for the SCHP told Newsweek that no further information would be released while the crash remains under investigation.
A court date for Kennedy has not been announced.
Kennedy, who is a resident of Roebuck, South Carolina, was previously a contestant on the smash-hit singing competition American Idol, making it to the top five on the ABC show in 2021.
Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office
However, Kennedy left the competition after a social media post on Snapchat showed him sitting next to someone appearing to wear a Ku Klux Klan robe. In a statement from his family, Kennedy said that the video had been recorded when he was only 12 years old.
Kennedy’s mother, Anita Guy, also claimed that the robes in question were not meant to represent the Ku Klux Klan. Rather, Guy said, her son was imitating characters from the 2018 movie The Strangers: Prey at Night, which does reportedly feature attackers with white masks.
In the aftermath of the social media post, however, Kennedy announced that he would not continue on in his American Idol journey.
“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” Kennedy wrote in an Instagram post announcing his departure. “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,” Kennedy continued. “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.”
“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 added.