Kylie Rae Harris Was Driving 100+ MPH Prior to Fatal Crash, Officials Say
Kylie Rae Harris, the Texas singer-songwriter who died in a three-car accident in Taos, N.M., in early September, was driving 100-plus miles per hour before the head-on collision, according to officials investigating the crash. The Taos County Sheriff's Office released the news on Thursday (Sept. 19), after examining vehicle data recorders.
According to TaosNews.com, Taos County Sheriff's Office and Farmington Police Department officials analyzed data from the data recorders in the vehicles involved in the accident, after obtaining a search warrant on Sept. 10. Based on that analysis and a reconstruction of the fatal crash, officials believe that Harris' 2017 Chevrolet Equinox was going 102 miles per hour southbound on State Road 522, near Milepost 1, when she clipped the back of a black Chevrolet Avalanche, driven by an unidentified driver, who was not injured.
Harris' vehicle's contact with the Avalanche caused Harris' vehicle to move into the northbound lane of the road and hit 16-year-old Maria Cruz's white 2008 Jeep SUV head on, at 95 miles per hour, per the investigation. Cruz, of San Cristobal, N.M., who also died in the crash, was going 51 miles per hour. "Braking was indicated three-tenths of a second before impact," according to a statement from the Taos County Sheriff's Office, which previously shared that all three drivers were wearing seatbelts.
“The information from the data boxes supports our at-scene investigation that two collision events occurred involving the three vehicles and that speed was definitely a contributing factor," says Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe. Previously, Sheriff Hogrefe shared that alcohol is also a suspected contributing factor in the crash, but toxicology reports have not yet been received.
The accident that killed Harris and Cruz occurred on Sept. 4, at around 9PM local time. In the days following the accident, Sheriff Hogrefe called Cruz "an innocent victim" of the crash, and said that Harris "caused" the accident.
Taste of County reports that Harris received a DWI charge in 2017. Her blood alcohol level at the time exceeded .15 (the legal limit is .08), which resulted in an ignition interlock being installed in her car. Harris' mother tells People that her daughter "struggled with" alcohol in recent years.
The 2014 Texas Regional Radio Music Awards Female Vocalist of the Year, Harris was a Wylie, Texas, native; she escaped an abusive relationship, which ended with legal troubles, after high school and kept pursuing music, a passion since she was a pre-teen. Her newest EP, a self-titled project, arrived in March; she co-wrote with Jon Randall, Bonnie Bishop, Wayne Kirkpatrick and more for the record.
“My twenties weren’t a walk in the park, a lot of that admittedly self-inflicted, but I grew a lot,” Harris told Taste of Country in January. “This project feels like the close of a real painful chapter and a welcome to whatever is next."
Harris was in Taos for a show at Michael Hearne's Big Barn Dance Music Festival. She is survived by a daughter, Corbie. Cruz is the daughter of Pedro Cruz, a San Cristobal Volunteer Fire Department deputy chief, who was one of the personnel who responded to the crash site.
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