The country singer announced Thursday he'd lost his 3-year-old son River

By Rachel DeSantis
June 06, 2019 04:55 PM

Granger Smith suffered every parent’s worst nightmare after his 3-year-old son River Kelly died following a “tragic accident.”

Smith’s rep confirmed to PEOPLE on Thursday that River’s death was due to a drowning accident at home.

The country singer and his wife, Amber, shared the news on social media, where they honored their son as a “special” little boy who brought joy to everyone he met.

“Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived,” Smith, 39, wrote on social media. “Amber and I made the decision to say our last goodbyes and donate his organs so that other children will be given a second chance at life.”

For those that follow the musician, the loss hits hard, as Smith has made it clear through his social media that being a family man is his top priority.

Courtesy Smith Family

He and Amber, who married in 2010, are also parents to daughter London, 7, and son Lincoln, 5. The family often features in Smith’s music videos.

In fact, it was when Amber auditioned to star in one of his videos in 2009 that they first met.

“When she walked in that was it,” Smith told PEOPLE in 2017, adding that he popped the question just seven months later.

London was the star of the lyric video for Smith’s single “You’re in It,” while Amber appeared in the actual music video. Lincoln, meanwhile, appeared in the clip for “Tractor.”

River was also prominently featured in the 2017 video for “Happens Like That,” during which he falls from the sky and lands in his father’s arms.

Speaking of including his kids in his projects, Smith told PEOPLE in August the cameos happened “organically.”

“They’ve literally been watching mom and dad in these music videos since they were infants,” he said. “They’re willing, and they want to, and they always want to be with us. There they are, and hey, you know, it’s perfect. I guess it’s just who I am. Family is everything to me.”

Smith frequently features his children on his social media accounts, too, and in November shared a sweet photo of him spending time outside with River, then 2.

“Gotta soak these moments up,” he captioned the post.

He also shared a sweet family photo in May in honor of Mother’s Day, writing a tribute to Amber in the caption.

“This sums it up. Me chillin. And then her with 3 monkeys climbing all over her,” he wrote. “She does it day in and day out with that love for them that only a mother can understand, but she also does it out of a love for me because she knows that so many times my work takes me away from home.”

A YouTube channel the family launched last month has more than 40,000 subscribers, though it appears all videos have been removed.

Smith, born and raised in Texas, burst onto the country music scene in 2013 with Dirt Road Driveway, which peaked at No. 48 on the US Billboard 200, and spawned singles like “Miles and Mud Tires” and “Bury Me in Blue Jeans.”

The star is known by fans for his “yee yee”-yelling redneck alter ego Earl Dibbles Jr., who sometimes appears in music videos.

Michael Tran/FilmMagic

“Earl started as a promotional tool… [He] was a voice, I hadn’t used that voice for years,” Granger told Country Countdown USA, explaining that he filmed a video as Earl with the hopes of going viral.

“I wrote a song called ‘The Country Boy Song,’ that was his day put to music. That song we released as a music video, went twice as viral. At that point, I thought Earl needs to be part of the show. We have not looked back since that day.”

In 2016, he made headlines after falling off a stage while performing in New Jersey, breaking two ribs in his back and puncturing his lung.

“I feel great, full motion, and now looking back on this time, I’m better because of it in a lot of ways,” Smith told PEOPLE in 2017.

Smith’s most recent album, When the Good Guys Win, was released in 2017 and featured singles like “You’re in It” and “Happens Like That.” It peaked at No. 2 on the US Top Country Albums.

Just last week, he released the single “Damn Strait,” a tribute to one of his idols, George Strait.

The music video featured appearances from family members like Amber and other friends and relatives.