A New Mexico EMT was in shock after responding to a vehicle accident only to learn one of the victims was his own 16-year-old daughter. According to authorities, Maria Elena Cruz died in the three-vehicle crash which involved country singer Kylie Rae Harris. According to Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe, investigators believe Harris caused the crash and that speed appeared to be a contributing factor when she clipped the back of another vehicle. The impact then sent her into oncoming traffic.
Harris then crashed head-on into an SUV that was being driven by the 16-year-old. Both Harris and the high school student, who attended Taos High School, died at the scene. The Sheriff’s Department stated the third driver escaped injury. The responding emergency crew included the teenager’s father, Pedro Cruz, who is the deputy chief of the San Cristobal Volunteer Fire Department.
The father responded to the deadly accident completely unaware his daughter was one of the victims. Faculty and Staff from Taos High were shocked to learn that Cruz was tragically killed in the accident. The sophomore was remembered by her family members and friends as hardworking, intelligent, beautiful, and an inspirational girl with a kind-hearted soul.
According to authorities, there is evidence showing that the crash scene indicated alcohol may have been involved, but have declined to provide details and are waiting for a toxicology report from the coroner’s office. The 30-year-old country singer had a prior DWI conviction in Collin County, Texas back in 2017. Court records showed she had been ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle. Harris was set to perform at an annual music festival and had posted on social media earlier that day that she was low on gas and 36 miles from the nearest gas station.
Her publicist, Sarah Frost, stated the songwriter’s death left her friends and family heartbroken. Harris release a self-titled album earlier this year and was traveling to shows throughout Texas for the summer.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 9, 2019.