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‘American Idol’ Alum Caleb Kennedy Claims He Used Vape Pen Before Fatal DUI Crash

Caleb KennedyWYFF/ABC

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A day after his arrest, American Idol contestant Caleb Kennedy is claiming that he took a “hit” from a vape pen, causing the car accident that killed Larry Duane Parris on Tuesday. Kennedy was charged yesterday for felony DUI resulting in death. The 17 year old says he hit his friends vape pen, which lead to his impairment. At this time, it is not known what was in the vape, but as he began to feel its effects, he drove off the road, killing Parris who was standing in his driveway. Kennedy then allegedly drove his truck through the victim’s garage. At this time, bond has been denied.

On Feb 9, Kennedy appeared before a magistrate judge. The judge decided that Kennedy will stay in jail for the time being and a circuit court judge will decide on bond. Circuit judges deal specifically with criminal or civil cases.

Kennedy Was Travelling to See His Girlfriend At the Time of the Crash

Family of the victim, 54 year old Larry Duane Parris was in attendance at yesterday’s appearance. Parris’s family shared the victim was standing in his driveway about to work on his boat when he was hit by the truck. The truck then hit the building. Parris died in the hospital at 3:45 p.m. The victim’s family has asked for Kennedy’s bond to be denied.

Kennedy was also brought to the hospital following the crash, but was then booked in the Spartanburg County Detention center on a felony DUI death charge according to Murray Glenn, a spokesman for the 7th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

Solicitor Barry Barnette shared to the court that Kennedy told law enforcement that he met a friend at a local Walmart before the crash. Kennedy took a hit of the friend’s vape pen and began to feel its effects while driving.

American Idol Alum Charged With Felony DUI

It was previously reported that the arrest warrant stated Kennedy was under the influence of marijuana. Despite the warrant, officials have yet to conclusively determine what was in the vape pen.

Lawyer Ryan Beasley shared that Kennedy was travelling through Spartanburg, SC, to visit his girlfriend in Union, SC. The lawyer also shared that they believe Kennedy’s prescribed medication may have caused the bad reaction to the vape pen.

South Carolina Highway Patrol is still investigating the crash at Parris’s home. Kennedy’s next court appearance is not known.

The crash occurred on Feb. 8 at 12:30 p.m. Following the crash, Kennedy was changed for a felony DUI resulting in death. He faces up to 25 years in prison and a fine of $10,100 to $25,100 if convicted.

Kennedy competed on American Idol‘s 19th season, but withdrew from the competition when a video of him went viral. Within the video he was sitting next to someone who appeared to be wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood. When this occurred, Kennedy said that the friend in the video was portraying a character from a movie. Regardless, he left the competition. Almost a year later, it is unclear whether the series forced him to withdraw or not. The show has since removed all of Kennedy’s performances from their YouTube channel.

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