TAOS, NEW MEXICO – The Taos County Sheriff said Thursday evening that Kylie Rae Harris, a 30-year-old rising Texas country singer, caused a fatal, three-car crash that killed Harris and a 16-year-old local high school student.
The Taos, New Mexico, community is mourning the death of the 16-year-old girl Maria Elena Cruz.
"At this time I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris," said Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, according to TaosNews.com.
Authorities said speed and alcohol were a factor in the crash that happened Wednesday night. They have not explicitly said that Harris was intoxicated and are awaiting the results of a toxicology report.
Authorities said Harris was 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. That's where she collided head-on with a white 2008 Jeep driven by 16-year-old Cruz, the Taos News reported.
Cruz, from nearby San Cristobal, and Harris were pronounced dead at the scene.
Cruz's father is deputy chief of the local volunteer fire department and was one of the people who responded to the fatal crash, the local newspaper reported.
An online fundraiser to raise money for Cruz's funeral says the teenager was "most sweetest, loving, incredible human ever."
Harris, who is survived by her 6-year-old daughter, was in New Mexico for a performance at a Taos music festival.
The Daily Mail reported that Harris has a previous DWI conviction in which her blood-alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit. As part of her sentence, she was required to install a breathalyzer device in her vehicle, the Daily Mail reported.
"Fuel range is 46 miles and I'm 36 from the nearest gas station. Dear baby Jesus please don't let me get stranded in NM," Harris wrote on Twitter hours before the crash.
Hours before the crash, she posted a photo on Instagram with a caption about the long road trip, according to Saving Texas Country. The post has since been deleted.
"I'm alright, I look a mess. It's because I've been crying. It's a good cry. I just got to Taos, NM. But for those of you who don't know, I spent the last 20 years of my life coming to Taos with my dad, my sisters, my grandparents lived here, my uncle still lives here. Literally everybody that was here has passed away, except for my uncle, including my dad. Driving these roads today—I've been driving for 12 hours—you would think that's so exhausting and boring … And remembering my place in the back seat, and I started getting really sad…"
Harris won the 2014 New Female Vocalist Of The Year from the Texas Regional Radio Music Awards after the release of her first EP in 2013.