Ahead of toxicology tests, vehicle data indicate speed a factor in singer’s fatal crash

Highway 567, junction, near Taos, Taos, New Mexico. (John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive, US Library of Congress)
Highway 567 junction, near Taos, New Mexico. (John Margolies Roadside America Photograph Archive, US Library of Congress)

On September 10, friends and family of 16 year old Taos (NM) high school student Maria Elena Cruz held a memorial service to honor the young woman who had a bright future ahead of her. According to authorities, Miss Cruz died on a highway in northern New Mexico when Texas singer Kylie Rae Harris tagged the rear end of a black Chevrolet Avalanche truck. Officials believe Harris lost control of her Chevrolet Equinox, rapidly moving into the wrong lane where she crashed into Cruz’s Jeep. Authorities obtained the vehicles’ data recorders, and investigated the scene.

Now officials say Harris was going at least 102 miles per hour when she tagged the truck, ultimately hitting Cruz’s Jeep at a speed of 95 miles per hour. Cruz was going 51 miles per hour. Toxicology tests are pending.

Making the crash even more tragic, Cruz’s father, San Cristóbal Volunteer Fire Department Deputy Chief Pedro Cruz, responded to the crash and found his daughter a victim.

Harris, who was only 30 years old,  had a troubled past widely reported by media, including penalties for speeding and for driving while intoxicated.

Harris had filmed herself earlier on the day she died, posting a video to social media. She was emotional because of loved ones who had passed on in the area, and she talked about her losses. She also said at that point she had been driving for 12 hours. She was traveling alone. Harris left behind a young daughter.

A brief look at black Avalanche trucks could raise questions about visibility on the back roads that night, considering the length of time Harris had been traveling. She was on her way to perform when she crashed her car.

There’s no word yet on when toxicology test results will be released.

Meanwhile friends and family of Miss Cruz are left with memories and grief over what she might have accomplished if someone hadn’t caused her to die. While we don’t know the status of the toxicology tests on Ms. Harris yet, we do know that, according to official government reports, excessive speed is a leading cause of auto crashes.

(Kay B. Day/Sept. 24, 2019)

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