On Sept. 4, 2019, 30-year-old rising country star Kylie Rae Harris was involved in a fatal three-car accident near Taos, New Mexico. Both Harris and Maria Elena Cruz, a local 16-year-old girl, died as a result of the crash.
Harris, who was scheduled to perform at a music festival the following day, is survived by her 6-year-old daughter Corbie.
The crash occurred Wednesday night when Harris was driving southbound on State Road 522 toward Taos when she hit a car in front of her, sending her own car into the northbound lane against traffic.
Harris’ vehicle then hit Cruz’s vehicle head-on. Although they were wearing seat belts, both Harris and Cruz died as a result.
Authorities at the Taos Police Department are still investigating the exact cause of the crash, but they told Taos News that both speed and alcohol are suspected contributing factors. They are currently waiting on toxicology reports to either confirm or deny the latter suspicion.
Law enforcement said the country singer-songwriter was responsible for the crash.
When news first broke of the crash, not much was known about Cruz, but her story only adds to the heartbreaking reality the crash has left in its wake.
“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 said, according to NBC News.
Among the first responders who were on scene on Wednesday evening was Cruz’s father, Deputy Chief Pedro Cruz of the San Cristóbal Volunteer Fire Department.
According to Taos News, though Deputy Chief Cruz was not responding in an official capacity, he was driving on State Road 522 when he happened upon the scene of the crash and learned that his daughter was a victim.
“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,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said to KRQE.
Cruz’s family is “reeling” from their sudden loss, Taos County Fire Chief Mike Cordova told Taos News in an email.
“Pedro’s family is all at home mourning her loss,” Cordova said. “At this point we are asking that people give the family some space for the next few days.”
Cruz was a junior at Taos High School and a waitress at the local Guadalajara Grill South. She was beloved by many in the community, including one of her former teachers, Patsy Alaniz.
“Her tragic death has impacted many young lives, former teachers, her beloved parents and little sister,” Alaniz wrote on Facebook. “A life with a future only a few can begin to dream of was cut short through no fault of her own!”
According to her obituary, a funeral mass will be held for Cruz on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019, with a public visitation and memorial to follow.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.