Singer Kills Teen In Crash, Fire Chief Responds And Sees Teen Is His Daughter
Taos, NM – Country music singer Kylie Rae Harris was the one responsible for causing the three-vehicle pileup that killed the 16-year-old daughter of the San Cristobal deputy fire chief on Sept. 4, according to police.
San Cristobal Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Pedro Cruz responded to the horrific crash and found his daughter dead at the scene, Extra reported.
"At this time, I will say with most certainty that [16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz] was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris," Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told the Tennessean.
Speed and alcohol are believed to have been factors in the collision, FOX News reported.
Harris, a 30-year-old rising country musician, was on her way to perform at the Big Barn Music Festival in Taos when the crash occurred, according to FOX News.
She was traveling southbound on State Road 522 when her black Chevrolet Equinox collided with the back end of a Chevrolet Avalanche, FOX News reported.
Harris veered left into oncoming traffic, slamming head-on into the 2008 Jeep Liberty Maria was driving.
Maria and Harris were both pronounced dead at the scene.
The driver of the Avalanche that Harris rear-ended was not injured.
"The toxicology report from [the] investigation will confirm or deny alcohol or other substances in both drivers," Sheriff Hogrefe told the Tennessean.
Harris’ mother, Betsy Cowan, said that alcohol abuse was “something [Kylie] struggled with one-and-off over the years,” but declined to elaborate “out of respect to both families,” People reported.
Cowan noted that the fatal crash could have been the result of sleep deprivation.
“If you’ve ever had to take defensive driving, they say sleep deprivation, emotions and alcohol are the top three contributors to most wrecks,” she told People. “And so any one of those things could have done it… She had driven 11 or 12 hours that day, and I’m sure that she was exhausted and she was emotionally exhausted. And I think we all know that what that does to you.”
“I think that after driving 12 hours and being excited and wanting to stay awake, that that’s the probable frame of mind that she was in at that point,” Cowan continued. “And that’s probably not safe, but we really won’t know the answer for quite some time.”
Harris also appeared to have been using her phone to post a series of videos to Instagram during her trek, People reported.
Cowan said that the family often worried about the long distances Harris had to drive to get to her performances.
“Those musicians are traveling at two o’clock in the morning when everybody out there is dangerous. It’s a very dangerous life to lead,” she told People. “It’s something that we worried about quite a bit when she started traveling like that because she wasn’t, honestly, famous enough to have a driver…It was a daily struggle for her, and that’s true for a lot of startup musicians.”
According to court records, Harris was charged with driving while intoxicated in June of 2017, FOX News reported.
She had a blood-alcohol content that was nearly twice the legal limit, and was convicted of the offense four months later.
She was ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle as a result of the conviction, but it is unclear whether or not that requirement was still in effect at the time of the deadly collision.
In 2014, she was charged with speeding for going 81 miles per hour in a 60 mile-per-hour zone, according to FOX News.
Harris was also charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in May of 2009, but was placed on probation as part of a deferred adjudication agreement.
Three years later, the assault charge against her was dismissed.
A fundraising campaign established to help Maria’s family in the wake of their loss raised $26,722 before her family opted to close it on Sunday.
“Maria’s family is satisfied with the amount that has been raised,” an update on the page read. “They are also very grateful for everyone who has donated, sent heartfelt messages, and prayers.”
“Maria was an innocent girl and was gone too soon,” the page read. “A drunk driver took her life and took a piece of all of us.”
Meanwhile, a fundraising campaign aimed at raising college funds for Harris’ six-year-old daughter remained active on Monday morning.
Donors have contributed over $43,600 to that cause.