Haley Smith, who wowed the judges during the 11th season of American Idol in 2012, died in a motorcycle crash in Maine this weekend. She was 26 years old.
The single-vehicle accident took place in the town of Millinocket at 2 a.m. on Saturday, the Millinocket Police Department confirms to PEOPLE. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene. “It would appear initially that she failed to negotiate a sharp turn and crashed,” the department told PEOPLE, adding that an investigation is pending. Smith’s father Mike told TMZ — which was first to report the news — that his daughter was a skilled rider and speculates that a deer was the cause of the sudden swerve.
Smith auditioned in Colorado during season 11, when she impressed the judges with a folk-tinged version of the funky Rufus & Chaka Khan classic, “Tell Me Something Good.” Despite making it to the Hollywood round, she was ultimately sent home.
During her initial appearance, Smith, then 18, spoke at length about her love of nature — “It’s where I feel more at peace, you could say.” — and her many jobs as a house cleaner, restaurant buser and “a vegetarian working in the meat department.”
Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, then a judge on the reality show, was particularly moved by her singing. “I love your voice so much,” he enthused. “You’re right out of my era and I’m honored to be here listening to your voice.”