On September 4, rising Country star Kylie Rae Harris was killed in a 3-car pileup in Taos, New Mexico. As Dearly previously reported, prior to her passing, she explained on her Instagram that she was in Taos to perform at a music festival.
Also killed in the accident was a 16-year-old girl, who was the driver of one of the three cars. The third person involved in the crash was reportedly not injured.
According to New Mexico police, preliminary findings revealed that it was Harris who caused the fatal accident.
Now, the teenager has been identified. According to the Taos News, the 16-year-old is Maria Elena Cruz. She was a sophomore at Taos High School.
As the Taos News reports, Maria’s father is the deputy chief of the San Cristóbal Volunteer Fire Department, Pedro Cruz. Pedro was on duty and responded to the crash. Both Maria and Harris were found wearing seatbelts.
According to the Taos County Sheriff’s Office, speed and alcohol were reportedly a factor in the accident. As the Sheriff’s Office determined, Harris was driving south on State Road 522 when she allegedly “clipped the back of a black Chevrolet Avalanche sending Harris’ vehicle into the northbound lane, causing her to hit the white 2008 Jeep.” Maria was driving the Jeep.
Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told the Taos News:
“At this time I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris.”
One of Maria’s former teachers took to Facebook to remember the teenager. Patsy Anglada Alaniz described Maria as “beautiful, intelligent, kind, hard-working, and inspirational”:
Yes, REMEMBER MARIA ELENA! I sent the following message earlier this evening to my former EGES 5th grade DL students…
Harris reportedly had a prior DWI on her record from 2017. The singer’s mom, Betsy Cowan, People that alcohol dependence is something the 30-year-old mom of one “struggled with on-and-off over the years.” However, “out of respect to both families,” Cowan declined to share more details.
A statement sent to the Taos News by the Taos County Fire Chief Mike Cordova read:
“Deputy Chief Pedro Cruz and his family are reeling. Pedro’s family is all at home mourning her loss. At this point, we are asking that people give the family some space for the next few days.”
Maria will be laid to rest on September 10.