BREAKING: Former ‘American Idol’ Contestant Caleb Kennedy Arrested and Charged with DUI Following Fatal Crash

Caleb Kennedy; Photo by American Idol, ABC
Caleb Kennedy; Photo by American Idol, ABC
Caleb Kennedy; Photo by American Idol, ABC

Caleb Kennedy, who appeared on season 19 of American Idol in 2021, was arrested and charged with a felony driving under the influence resulting in death on Tuesday (Feb. 8), ABC4 reports.

The 17-year-old was allegedly driving just south of Pacolet, South Carolina on West Murph Road in Spartanburg County around 12:40 pm when his 2011 Ford pickup went into a private drive and reportedly struck a man.

According to Fox Carolina, the 54-year-old victim, Larry Duane Parris, was hit and rushed to the hospital with injuries after Kennedy reportedly struck a detached garage with Parris inside. 

The outlet also reported that Parris was later pronounced dead by The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office at the hospital around 3:45 p.m that afternoon. 

Kennedy, who was traveling North on West Murph Road, also sustained injuries and was taken to Spartanburg Medical Center, Master Trooper Mitchell Ridgeway said.

caleb kennedy mCaleb Kennedy; Photo Courtesy Spartanburg County Sherriff's Office ugshot
Caleb Kennedy; Photo Courtesy Spartanburg County Sherriff’s Office

The “Raised On Dirt” singer was later arrested and charged with felony DUI resulting in death.

According to the official Spartanburg County Sherriff’s Office inmate listings, Caleb Andrew Kennedy was booked by Highway Patrol Officer Jesse Horton and is being held without bond.

Kennedy abruptly exited American Idol before the Top 5 after a video showing him with someone who appeared to be wearing a hood similar to that of the Ku Klux Klan surfaced online. 

The 17-year-old revealed he was leaving Idol in a letter to fans on social media. 

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on American Idol,” Kennedy’s statement began. “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 was just 12-years-old when the video was filmed and his mother later shared a statement about the clip, telling fans it had “nothing to do with the “Ku Klux Klan.”

Caleb Kennedy; Photo by ABC/Christopher Willard
Caleb Kennedy; Photo by ABC/Christopher Willard

The singer/songwriter later opened up about his time on Idol and admitted he was not “ready for it.”

“There’s no way to emotionally prepare for Idol,”  he told the Spartanburg Herald Journal in June of 2021. “Because no one is ready for it, no matter how you prepare. But I don’t regret it, and I did love it.”

After taking a break from the spotlight, Kennedy returned in September with the new track, “Raised on Dirt,” which was originally planned to release during his time on American Idol.

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