County singer Kylie Rae Harris who died in a car crash in New Mexico on Wednesday reportedly caused the three-vehicle pileup, police said. While discussing 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz who also died in the crash, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe reportedly said that Harris, 30, was at fault for the crash.
"At this time I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris," Hogrefe said, as reported by KSAT-TV. The San Antonio television station cited TaosNews.com with that statement from Hogrefe, although the statement does not seem to appear on the site.
Authorities also said that speed and alcohol were a factor in the crash. They have not explicitly named if anyone was intoxicated and are awaiting results of a toxicology report.
Harris, who was mom to a 6-year-old girl, was reportedly driving a 2017 black Chevrolet Equinox when she clipped the back of a black Chevrolet Avalanche, causing Harris' vehicle to veer into the lane of oncoming traffic, where she collided head-on with a white 2008 Jeep driven by Maria, Taos News reported.
The 16-year-old killed in the crash on State Road 522 in Taos was tragically the daughter of a first responder called to the scene of the accident. Maria's father is reportedly San Cristobal Volunteer Fire Deputy Chief Pedro Cruz.
Maria was pronounced dead at the scene. The third driver was not seriously injured.
A friend of Maria's family set up a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses. The crowdfunding page claims that the crash was caused by a drunk driver. "Maria was an innocent girl and was gone too soon. A drunk driver took her life and took a piece of all of us," the campaign description reads.
Harris' publicist confirmed the news of her death to Billboard, issuing a statement that read: "We are heartbroken to confirm that Kylie Rae Harris passed away in a car accident last night. We have no further details to share, and ask for privacy for her family at this time. Everyone that knew Kylie knew how much she loved her family and, beyond that, how much she loved music. The best tribute to her unmatched enthusiasm for both is to spread as much love as you can today, and listen to music that fully inspires you."
Ahead of the crash, Harris posted on her Instagram Stories that she had been driving over 12 hours to get to Taos, where she was set to play in the Big Barn Dance music festival. The event's organizer said that the event would still go on and that the other performers would be dedicating their sets to Harris.