Kylie Rae Harris, a 30-year-old rising Texas country singer, caused the fatal, three-car crash that killed her as well as 16-year-old girl in northern New Mexico this week, the Taos County Sheriff Office is reporting.
Harris, a 30-year-old Wylie, Texas, native, was scheduled to perform Thursday at a music festival in Taos, New Mexico. Harris and 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz died in the Wednesday night wreck on State Road 522.
"At this time I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris," Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said.
Hogrefe told the Taos News that investigators believe Harris caused Wednesday's crash and that speed appeared to be a contributing factor when she clipped the back of another vehicle, sending her into oncoming traffic. She then crashed head-on into an SUV driven by the teenage Cruz.
The sheriff said Pedro Cruz, a Taos County Firefighter/EMT, responded to the scene and found his daughter dead at the scene.
A third driver escaped injury, according to information from the sheriff's office.
Authorities said alcohol is also suspected.
"The toxicology report from (the) investigation will confirm or deny alcohol or other substances in both drivers," Hogrefe said.
The Taos News reported that Harris had a prior DWI conviction in Collin County, Texas, in 2017 and had been ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle, according to court records.
A student of Radney Foster, Jerry Jeff Walker and Patty Griffin, Harris, a single mother, wrote her first song at age 14. She released a pair of albums this decade before debuting her self-titled EP in March. A, reflective six-song effort, it chronicled Harris' troubadour life as she moved from Texas to Nashville and back again.
The record featuring co-writing from Nashville songwriters Jon Randall, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Dave Berg.
Students and faculty at Taos High were in shock after learning that Cruz was killed in the crash. The sophomore was remembered as beautiful, kind, hardworking, intelligent and inspirational.
Taos County Fire Manager Mike Cordova said in an email to the Associated Press that the Cruz family was reeling from her death.
Loved ones of the 16-year-old who died have created a GoFundMe page to raise money to help her family with any needs.
Reach Natalie Neysa Alund at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @nataliealund.
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Kylie Rae Harris caused double fatal New Mexico crash, sheriff says