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'American Idol' Contestant Caleb Kennedy Arrested For Felony DUI After Allegedly Crashing His Truck, Killing Man

Authorities in South Carolina say Caleb Kennedy crashed his truck Tuesday afternoon into a workshop behind a Spartanburg County home, killing Larry Duane Parris.

By Jill Sederstrom
These Reality Television Celebrities Became Criminals

Former “American Idol” contestant Caleb Kennedy has been arrested after authorities say he crashed into a workshop building while intoxicated, killing the man inside.

The 17-year-old—who competed on the show in 2021—is now facing charges of felony driving under the influence resulting in death after the fatal South Carolina crash, local station WSPA reports.  

According to the Pacolet Fire Department, Kennedy allegedly crashed his truck Tuesday afternoon around 12:33 p.m. into a workshop behind a Spartanburg County home.

The man inside, identified by the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office as 54-year-old Larry Duane Parris, was rushed to the Spartanburg Medical Center, where he later died, the news outlet reports.

Kennedy was also taken to the hospital, where he was treated for injuries he sustained during the crash.

Caleb Kennedy Pd

Chief Heath Brown described the crash to WSPA as unusual because the roadway leading to the building had been “more like a personal driveway” and was set off the main road.

“I’ve been in the business 20 years and this is one of the most unique instances I’ve ever been on with a car versus a building,” he said.

The incident remains under investigation by the South Carolina Highway Patrol, USA Today reports. Oxygen.com reached out to the highway patrol but did not receive an immediate response.

Kennedy, a country singer, became a fan favorite on “American Idol” because of his original songs and deep voice and made it into the top five, but he was kicked off the show just two episodes before the finale after a video surfaced of him sitting next to someone who appeared to be wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.

He later apologized on Instagram, saying that the video “displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way,” People reported last year.

His mother, Anita Guy, told the Herald-Journal that the video was taken when he was 12-years-old after he had watched a movie.

“I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” she said. “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.”

Kennedy talked himself about the pressures of being thrust into the national spotlight at such a young age to the Herald-Journal last year.

"You think it’s all going to be fun, and a lot of it is, but it will slap you in the face really quickly. I wasn’t ready for it," Kennedy said. 

He added that although there was “no way to emotionally prepare for Idol” he didn’t regret his time on the show.

Kennedy, whose being held at the Spartanburg Detention Center, is expected to appear for a bond hearing Wednesday.

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