Celebrities & Pop Culture

‘American Idol’ Contestant Haley Smith Has Died At Age 26

Rest in peace, Haley.

We have sad news to share: Former “American Idol” contestant and Utah native Haley Smith died in a motorcycle accident in a rural part of the northeastern U.S.

Smith was only 26 years old at the time of her death.

According to police, the singer failed to make a sharp turn in Millinocket, Maine, and crashed around 2 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31. Smith’s father told TMZ that his daughter was an experienced motorcycle rider and it’s possible that a deer was involved in the accident.

“American Idol” shared their condolences to her family over Twitter.

“We are sorry to hear of the passing of Haley Smith and our thoughts and prayers are with her family,” the “American Idol” organization said in the tweet, as well as in a statement to E! News.

Here’s a recent picture from her Facebook page, where she went by Halley Love Henrickson:

According to her Facebook page, Smith worked at The Boatman’s Bar & Grill in Millnocket, and had previously studied at BYU-Pathway Worldwide, with is part of Brigham Young University.

After her death, her boyfriend, Tristan McAvoy, posted a video of Smith singing with a ukelele on Facebook with the sweet message, “I won’t ever forget you. I love you dream girl.”

Judging by this short clip, it seems like from the time she appeared on “American Idol” until now, she was able to develop her voice even further while still maintaining a sunny energy.

Her Time On ‘American Idol’

“Idol” fans will remember Smith from Season 11 when the then-18-year-old wowed judges Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Jennifer Lopez, and Randy Jackson with her 1970s-inspired vibe and clothes.

Smith performed a folksy rendition of the Rufus and Chaka Kahn song “Tell Me Something Good” during her initial audition in Colorado.

Randy Jackson Steven Tyler photo
Getty Images | Frederick M. Brown

Tyler gave her high praise, saying, “I love your voice so much. You’re right out of my era and I’m honored to be here listening to your voice.”

Steven Tyler America Idol photo
Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez

She impressed the other judges as well.

“I just love the commitment to you just being who you are and your natural gift. We always say to people, ‘Make it your own. You don’t need to sound like the record’ and you definitely were doing your own thing with it,” added Jackson, before voting to send Smith to Hollywood for the next round of judging.

Randy Jackson America Idol photo
Getty Images | Frazer Harrison

The judges called Smith “a real flower child” after she left the audition room.

American Idol photo
Getty Images | Kevork Djansezian

However, she did not go on to become a winner of the show.

Unfortunately, Smith was eliminated during the next phase of the competition. Phillip Phillips became the 2012 “American Idol” winner.

American Idol Philip Phillips photo
Getty Images | Alberto E. Rodriguez

Smith’s initial audition is still on YouTube. In it, she talks about her love of the outdoors and how she has three jobs: at the time, she was a house cleaner, a restaurant buser and a vegetarian working in a meat department. The judges were very impressed by her young voice and happily sent her along to Hollywood.

You can watch it here:

Remembering Haley Smith

After the news came out, friends posted tributes to the talented young woman on Twitter:

R&B scholar Gerrick D. Kennedy tweeted about Smith’s death, writing, “Her take on Chaka was so spirited and lovely”:

We send our condolences to Smith’s friends, family and “American Idol” fans on her untimely passing.