Country singer was driving drunk and speeding when she caused fatal crash, police say

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Country singer Kylie Rae Harris had a blood alcohol level more than three times the legal limit and was driving at 102 mph when she caused a three-car crash in September that killed her and another driver, the Taos County Sheriff said Thursday. The other driver, 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz, did not have any alcohol in her system, the sheriff said.

“Data [from the cars’ on-board computers] showed Ms. Harris’ speed at 102 miles per hour at the time of the first collision event before crossing into the oncoming lane and striking Ms. Cruz’s vehicle at 95 miles per hour,” a spokesperson for the TCSO wrote on Facebook

Toxicology and post-mortem reports done by the medical examiner’s office indicated she had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.28, more than three times the legal limit in New Mexico. Harris and Cruz, a Taos High School student, died on the scene. The responding emergency crew included the teen’s father, Pedro Cruz, the deputy chief of the San Cristobal Volunteer Fire Department, according to the Associated Press.

“At this time, I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris,” the sheriff said at the time. 

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Instagram / Kylie Rae Harris

A single mother from North Texas, Harris had a prior DWI conviction in Collin County, Texas, in 2017, according to the Taos News. According to courts record obtained by the Taos News, she had been ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle. 

Harris was scheduled to perform at Michael Hearne’s Big Barn Dance Music Festival in Taos the weekend of her death. Harris tweeted the night of the crash that she was running low on gas. “Fuel range is 46 miles and I’m 36 from the nearest gas station Dear baby Jesus please don’t let me get stranded in NM,” she wrote.  

She also posted an emotional video message on her Instagram Story hours before the crash. “I look a mess, ’cause I’ve been crying,” she said. “It’s alright though, it’s a good cry.” 

Although she said she “loved” the music festival, she said traveling to Taos was difficult because many of her family members who lived there have died. 

“Literally, everybody that was here has passed away, except for my uncle, including my dad,” she said. She said she had been driving for 12 hours, but “you would think that’s so exhausting and boring, but like, the last couple of hours, driving through the mountains and just like, remembering my place in the back seat … I started getting really sad,” she said.

The North Texas native’s latest work was a self-titled EP that was released in March, according to CBS Dallas / Fort Worth. She previously recorded two other albums: “Taking It Back” and “What The Heart Wants.” 

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