Kylie Rae Harris' Mother Says Singer 'Struggled With Alcohol' Before Fatal Accident

Kylie Rae Harris' mother Betsy Cowan is opening up further about the country singer after her tragic death in a car crash in New Mexico Wednesday. The performer was killed in a three-vehicle crash — which also claimed the life of 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz — nearby the town of Taos.

PEOPLE released a statement from the Taos County Sheriff's Office detailing the accident. The statement said Harris, who was traveling south on State Road 522 in a black Chevrolet Equinox, struck a black Chevrolet Avalanche from the back, initially sending her vehicle into the northbound traffic lane. Harris' car then collided head-on with Cruz's white 2008 Jeep, which was traveling north on SR 522 at the time.

The crash was both drivers cause of death, as they were pronounced dead at the scene. Authorities said speed seemed to be a contributing factor, and alcohol was also a suspected factor involved in the tragic accident.

"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 in a statement to

Cowan addressed the findings on the accident telling PEOPLE that alcohol was "something [Kylie] struggled wit on-and-off over the years" but opted not to go into detail "out of respect" for the families of both victims.

It will be a few weeks before a toxicology report can determine if alcohol played a part in the car crash, but Cowan said the results of the test will not change what happened.

"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 the outlet. "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."

"If you've ever had a little kid and they run around the living room in circles trying to keep themselves awake and they look like they're on steroids — 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," she added. "And that's probably not safe, but we really won't know the answer for quite some time."

Cowan previously opened up about her daughter's death in an interview with Radar Online saying the accident left a "big hole in her heart." She also went into detail about a series of emotional videos Harris posted to her Instagram Stories minutes before the crash.

"When she gets to Taos, she always thought of her grandma Kay who passed away," Cowan told the outlet. "When her grandma died, her uncle Scott, who is a musician there also, lost his wife. Her grandmother and Scott's wife died within 10 days of each other."


Harris' father was fighting cancer at the time, and he died just nine months after Harris' grandmother and her uncle's wife.

"Whenever she goes to Taos, it's a big thing for her," Cowan explained. "It holds lots of memories, so she was emotional about it."