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Former ‘American Idol’ Finalist Charged With DUI After Fatal Crash

Former “American Idol” finalist Caleb Kennedy was arrested Tuesday after reportedly crashing into a building and killing a man in South Carolina.

Kennedy was charged in Spartanburg with driving under the influence, Master Trooper Mitchell Ridgeway of the South Carolina Highway Patrol confirmed to PEOPLE.

“A 2011 Ford pickup was traveling north on W. Murph Road when the vehicle traveled onto a private drive at 269 W. Murph Road and struck a building,” Ridgeway told the outlet. “A person inside the building sustained fatal injury as a result of the collision.”

“The driver is identified as Caleb Andrew Kennedy, 17-year-old male from Roebuck, South Carolina,” Ridgeway continued. “This crash remains under investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. There will be no further updates at this time.”

WSPA-TV noted that one person inside the struck building was injured and taken to Spartanburg Medical Center, where the man later passed away.

“The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 54-year-old Larry Duane Parris,” the report noted. “Kennedy was also taken to the hospital with injuries.”

Kennedy is being held in the Spartanburg County Detention Center and is scheduled for a Wednesday morning bond hearing. A conviction in the case could include a maximum of up to 25 years in prison, CBS News reported.

Kennedy reached the top five finalists during the 2021 season of “American Idol.” He was removed from the show after a controversial video surfaced of him with a friend who wore a hood that resembled the hoods worn by the Klu Klux Klan.

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol. 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 said in a statement on Instagram at the time.

“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!” he added.

“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!’” Yahoo Entertainment reported at the time.

Kennedy later addressed his “American Idol” experience in an interview with the Herald-Journal. “There’s no way to emotionally prepare for Idol. Because no one is ready for it, no matter how you prepare. But I don’t regret it, and I did love it.”

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