A firefighter was the first responder to a fatal car crash where he found his dead 16-year-old daughter.
On September 4, in Taos, New Mexico, country singer Kylie Rae Harris was killed after causing a three-car collision, which also took the life of high school student Maria Cruz.
Harris’s black Chevrolet clipped the back of another vehicle, causing it to veer into the opposite lane and crash head-on into Maria’s jeep, when she was heading home from work.
The teen’s father Pedro Cruz, the deputy chief of the San Cristobal Volunteer Fire Department and also an EMT, attended the scene. However, he didn’t know his daughter was a victim until finding her lifeless body.
[Pedro is] also an EMT, so he’s no stranger to going out on calls both medical, crashes and other things, but very traumatic for him to not know but to respond anyway and then find it was his family member.
According to CBS Austin, authorities say they have evidence which suggests speed and alcohol was involved in the incident – however, they’re still awaiting the toxicology report from the coroner’s office.
Both Harris and Maria were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, and the third driver emerged from the collision unscathed.
At this time, I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms Harris.
Harris had a history of drunk driving – in June 2017, she was fined $460.10 and was ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle after being convicted of driving while intoxicated. Her blood alcohol level was reportedly twice the legal limit.
In 2014, Harris was also fined $302 for speeding after she was caught driving 81mph in a 60mph zone in Dallas.
Maria was remembered as a ‘loving and caring person who was taken from her family and friends way too soon’. A GoFundMe page, set up to raise money for Maria’s family, amassed $26,722 before the family stopped further donations.
Harris’s mother, Betsy Cowan, wrote in a statement:
Needless to say, we have a huge hole in our hearts right now. We knew our Kylie made a big impact on those around her, but I don’t think we could have fathomed how many people truly loved and cherished her.
Please know that we’ve never been a big fan of GoFundMe pages, but I believe there will be several benefits for Kylie’s precious six-year-old daughter, Corbie, as Kylie, like most musicians, did not have assets or life insurance.
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the 16-year-old girl who also died on the scene of the accident last night in Taos.
Harris, who leaves behind a six-year-old daughter, was in Taos to perform at an annual music festival.
She had posted on social media earlier that day that she was low on gas and 36 miles from the nearest gas station. ‘Dear baby Jesus please don’t let me get stranded in NM,’ she tweeted.
Saving Country Music called Harris ‘a mother, designer, and one of the most revered songwriters, performers, and women of Texas country music’.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.