The Acclaimed Songwriter Was One Of Two Drivers Killed In A Three-Car Collision In Taos, New Mexico, Where She’d Been Scheduled To Perform A Festival Gig.
Update at 1 p.m. on Monday, September 9, 2019: Authorities in Taos now say Harris was at fault in last week’s fatal crash. Police believe speed was a factor in Harris clipping another vehicle before swerving with her own car into oncoming traffic, where she collided head-on with the SUV being driven by the 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz. Both died at the scene.
“At this time, I will say with most certainty that Miss Cruz was an innocent victim of this senseless crash caused by Ms. Harris,” Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe told the Taos News.
Citing evidence found at the scene, authorities also suspect that alcohol was a contributing factor in the collision. They are still awaiting the results of a toxicology report.
Harris was slated to perform in Taos on Thursday and was documenting her drive from North Texas to the Taos gig on her social media channels throughout Wednesday afternoon.
Original story follows.
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Texas country singer Kylie Rae Harris was one of two drivers to die at the scene of a three-car collision in Taos, New Mexico, on Wednesday night.
The Wylie native was 30 years old.
According to the Taos News, officers were dispatched to the scene at Milepost 1 on State Road 522 around 9 p.m. Upon arrival, they confirmed that Harris and a 16-year-old girl from San Cristobal, New Mexico, were killed in the crash. The driver of the third vehicle was uninjured. According to police reports, all three drivers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the accident, although officers suspect alcohol was a factor.
Though the Taos News report did not list the names of the victims in their report — it simply listed Harris as a 30-year-old woman from Wylie, Texas — a Saving County Music report published this morning confirmed her identity.
A statement released by Harris’ family in the wake of that news breaking reads as follows: “We are heartbroken to confirm that Kylie Rae Harris passed away in a car accident last night. We have no further details to share, and ask for privacy for her family at this time. Everyone that knew Kylie knew how much she loved her family and, beyond that, how much she loved music. The best tribute to her unmatched enthusiasm for both is to spread as much love as you can today, and listen to music that fully inspires you.”
Already today, news of Harris’ death has been covered by various country music sites, as well as more mainstream outlets including Variety, Us Weekly, People, E! and Billboard.
Harris’ star, undoubtedly, was on the rise.
In 2011 and 2012, she began establishing herself as a musician worth following through her role as a cast member on the reality TV show Troubadour, TX, where she was one of a handful of songwriters whose lives and performances were documented by cameras. The work she put into that show eventually saw the light of day through the 2013 release of her Taking It Back EP. Until earlier this year, that release stood as the sole collection in Harris’ catalog, as she took an extended break from recording to focus on songwriting, raising the daughter she gave birth to that same year and working on the Corbie + Co. clothing boutique she’d named after her daughter.
This past spring, however, she made her triumphant return to the spotlight, releasing a self-titled EP on March 25. That album’s lead single, “Big Ol’ Heartache”, was named Central Track’s Song of the Day on February 4 of this year, although much of the praise surrounding the album’s release centered around its closing track “Twenty Years From Now”, the recording of which Billboard premiered on the day of that EP’s release.
As Harris told Billboard, the song was written as a letter to her now-six-year-old daughter Corbie, shortly after Harris’ own 54-year-old father lost his battle with cancer.
“[His death] scared me thinking that it was totally possible I could be gone before my daughter reaches that point,” Harris told Billboard of the song upon its premiere. “I want to meet my kid’s kids. Getting to the age your parents were when you were a child brings a whole lot of perspective.”
As with many Harris songs, the song references road trips and includes a now-haunting refrain directed at her daughter in the chorus: “God, I hope I’m still around 20 years from now.”
The final messages Harris shared to her social media accounts are also chilling in retrospect. Her final tweet was a tongue-in-cheek prayer about not getting stranded in New Mexico because she was worried about running out of gas while driving to the Big Barn Dance music festival she was scheduled to perform today (September 5). She also documented those fuel concerns on her Instagram Stories before sharing an emotional story about her childhood memories of New Mexico road trips with her father and sister.
Shared Harris: “Alright, I look a mess. It’s ’cause I’ve been crying! It’s OK, though. It’s a good cry. I just got to Taos, New Mexico, and I’m playing this festival here called the Big Barn Dance. I love this festival. But, for those of you who don’t know, I spent the last 20 years of my life coming to Taos with my dad and my sister. My grandparents lived here. My uncle still lives here. But, basically, literally everybody that was here has passed away — except for my uncle, and including my dad. [Starts crying.]
“I’ve been driving for almost 12 hours, and you would think that’s so exhausting and boring, but the last couple of hours, driving through the mountains and just, like, remembering my place in the backseat as a little kid when my dad was making these treks here, it was the fucking best. And I started getting really sad. [Laughs.] I started getting real sad!
“And then, all of a sudden, these random cows show up in the middle of the road, and it might sound really crazy, but there was this time — and it was something we always talked about with my dad and my sister — I was in the backseat asleep. I was, like, 10 or 12. And we hit something really hard! And I like popped up my head and I was like, “What was that?!?!” And my dad said, “Cow guard!” But, really, he had hit a cow. [Laughs.]
“I know that’s very depressing. But just the fact that, when I was on my trek through the mountains, I had just started crying and I was sad, and then all of a sudden these cows just appeared out of nowhere… Y’know, we grieve in different ways, but, like… I dunno.”
Per their timestamps, those posts were shared to Harris’ Instagram Stories no more than two hours before her fatal crash.
Harris is survived by her six-year-old daughter Corbie and her extended family. A GoFundMe campaign has been launched to help pay for funeral expenses and to help set up a college fund for Corbie’s future.