Kylie Rae Harris Was Driving Over 100MPH Before Crash That Killed Her and a Teenage Girl
Texas-based country singer Kylie Rae Harris was driving at speeds in excess of 100 MPH just before the head-on car crash that killed her and a 16-year-old girl, authorities say.
The 30-year-old singer-songwriter died on Sept. 4 in a crash that took place on State Road 522 in Taos, N.M., when the Chevrolet Equinox she was driving clipped a Chevrolet Avalanche from behind. That sent Harris' vehicle into the oncoming lane, where she crashed head-on into a white 2008 Jeep 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz was driving. Harris and Cruz both died at the scene of the accident, while the third driver escaped injury.
The Taos News reports that the Taos County Sheriff's Office retrieved the data recorders from the vehicles, and after reconstructing the scene with that data, investigators believe that Harris was traveling at a speed of 102 MPH when she clipped the rear of the Avalanche and was going 95 MPH when she struck the Jeep head-on. Cruz was going 51 MPH, according to data.
According to a statement from the Taos County Sheriff's Office, "Braking was indicated three-tenths of a second before impact."
“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," Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe says in a statement issued Thursday (Sept. 19).
Investigators also made a preliminary assessment based on their analysis of the crash site that alcohol played a contributing role, but toxicology results will not come back for several weeks. Hogrefe blamed Harris for the accident in talking to Taos News days after the crash, saying, "At this time I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris."
Public records indicate Harris had a DWI in 2017 in which her blood alcohol level exceeded .15, nearly twice the legal limit. That resulted in an ignition interlock being installed in her vehicle by court order.
Harris' mother, Betsy Cowan, tells People that alcohol was “something [Harris] struggled with on-and-off over the years."
The singer was trying to put her difficult past behind her when she released her final self-titled EP in March of 2019.
“My twenties weren’t a walk in the park, a lot of that admittedly self-inflicted, but I grew a lot,” she said in a press release for the project. “This project feels like the close of a real painful chapter and a welcome to whatever is next.”
Harris was a single mother, and she left behind a six-year-old daughter named Corbie. One song on her final project, "Twenty Years From Now," addresses her daughter directly, hoping she'll one day understand and forgive her mother's mistakes and decisions.
"You deserve nothing less than happiness / And so do I / Twenty years from now / My prayer is that somehow / You’ll forgive all my mistakes and be proud of the choice I made / God I hope I’m still around / Twenty years from now," Harris sang in the eerie song.
Corbie performed the song with Texas-based country and rock singer Bonnie Bishop at Harris' memorial service on Sept. 11.
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