Country singer Kylie Rae Harris was responsible for the car crash that took not only her own life, but that of a 16-year-old girl as well, authorities say.
Harris died after a three-vehicle crash in northern New Mexico on Wednesday evening. The Taos County Sheriff's Office has since confirmed that Harris caused the crash and that speed was a factor, the Taos News reports.
Harris, who was driving a Chevrolet Equinox, is suspected of having clipped a car driving in front of her, at which point she veered into oncoming traffic and crashed directly into a Jeep being driven by 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz, the outlet reports. Both parties, who were alone in their cars and wearing seatbelts, died at the scene, while a third driver survived without injuries.
“At this time, I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told the outlet.
Authorities also suspect that alcohol played a factor in the crash, due to evidence collected at the site, but Hogrefe did not provide details to the paper and toxicology reports are pending.
Cruz was the daughter of a volunteer deputy chief of the San Cristóbal Volunteer Fire Department, Pedro Cruz, who responded to the scene of his daughter’s accident, KRQE reports. He did not know until he arrived that his daughter had been killed, according to the outlet.
“He’s also an EMT, so he’s no stranger to going out on calls both medical, crashes, and other things, but very traumatic for him to not know but to respond anyway and then find it was his family member,” Hogrefe said.
Maria Elena Cruz was a junior in high school and was on her way home from working with her uncle at a local restaurant when she was killed, the outlet reports.
“We don’t want her name to be forgotten, because she had so much of her life ahead,” her uncle, Pedro Soliz, said. “She was a very good student and wanted to study and for people to take her away, that’s not right.”
Court records show that Harris had previously been convicted of a DWI in 2017, at which time a judge ruled that she install an ignition interlock device in her car, the Taos News reports.
Harris, a Texas native and mother of a 6-year-old daughter, was reportedly en route to perform at the four-day Big Barn Dance music festival at the time of the crash, according to the outlet.
In a tweet posted the afternoon before she died, she mentioned needing more gas, writing, “Fuel range is 46 miles and I’m 36 from the nearest gas station. Dear baby Jesus please don’t let me get stranded in NM.”
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