Valley singer killed in Gilbert crash

Posted at 10:34 AM, Mar 05, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-06 00:34:04-05

An up and coming local musician, 18-year-old Keli Rutledge, died in a crash Friday night. Announcement of her passing came from other local musicians as they got word of what had happened.

Gilbert police say the crash happened near Queen Creek and Higley Roads Friday morning. Rutledge was driving and was hit by what police say may have been an impaired driver. She was taken to the hospital but died of her injuries Friday night. 

The driver of the other vehicle, 26-year-old Emilio Deleon, was also taken to the hospital but there's been no update on his condition.

According to her Facebook music page Rutledge went to Higley High School where she sang in choir and participated in talent shows before starting to perform on her own.

She took fifth place in the Arizona Idol competition as a freshman in high school, and won the Proof is in the Pudding competition though Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Foundation. Most recently she played a show at Marquee Theater and even made it on to several local radio shows on programs where new artists are profiled.

Rutledge was attending Chandler-Gilbert Community College and planned to transfer to Arizona State after the summer.

"It was impossible to have a negative conversation with her. From the moment you started talking to her she would make your day better," said friend Jacob Morris. 

"It didn't feel like something that could actually happen. Especially to someone like Keli who was so young and full of life," said fellow musician Thomas Muglia. 

Rutledge also played a big part at local churches, coffee shops and local venues, where she played her music as often as she could.