Maria Elena Cruz: Tribute to Teen Killed in Kylie Rae Harris Crash

maria elena cruz

GoFundMe Maria Elena Cruz

Maria Cruz, the 16-year-old girl who died in a three-vehicle crash that also killed country singer/songwriter Kylie Rae Harris in New Mexico, was a beloved high school student and the daughter of the deputy chief of the San Cristóbal Volunteer Fire Department.

She was remembered as hard-working and intelligent. Maria’s supporters have created a GoFundMe page in the wake of her death.

“Maria was killed in a tragic accident due to drunk driving. Someone decided to get behind the wheel while have consumed alcohol. I want to raise this money to help with funeral costs and support for her family. She was such a young girl and had her whole life ahead of her. Please anything will do,” a GoFundMe page to help Maria’s family says. It’s raised over $1,300.

Maria’s obituary reads:

Maria was a loving and caring person who was taken from her family and friends’ way too soon. She was employed and enjoyed tending to the guests at Guadalajara Grill South. She attended Taos High School where she was a junior.

Maria is survived by her parents Pedro and Erika Cruz, sister Emily, grandparents Hermenia Cruz-Solorio, Berta Solis and Enrique Moltalvo and many other loving relatives and friends, too many to mention. She will be deeply missed by all who knew and loved her.

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

People expressed condolences on the page. “Life is just to sic) short and for a young soul to be taken away from their family is heart breaking. I know loss and pain. I just dont think anyone should ever have to feel this. So with all my heart. God bless Maria’s family,” wrote one man who donated to the fund.

What caused the fatal crash that killed Maria Elena Cruz and Kylie Rae Harris? Preliminary news reports do say alcohol might be involved. Police say they’re awaiting toxicology reports and that speed also might be a factor. Harris’s self-titled EP was called Wide Open Country. Her first in 2013, titled Taking It Back, was released to accolades.

Taos News reported that the three vehicle crash occurred on State Road 522 Wednesday night (Sept. 4), according to the Taos County Sheriff’s Office. “Alcohol is suspected as contributing to the crash,” reported Taos News. The crash occurred at about 9 p.m. on September 4, 2019; the teenage driver was 16 and died at the scene. The third driver was not injured. Authorities haven’t said which driver they think was drinking, but Harris had a drunk driving history, according to

Taos News reported that “all drivers involved were wearing seatbelts; however alcohol is suspected as being a factor in the crash.” Saving Country Music reported that Kylie Rae Harris was a “mother, designer, and one of the most revered songwriters, performers, and women of Texas country music.” She leaves behind a daughter.

According to Taos News, authorities believe that Harris “clipped the back of a black Chevrolet Avalanche sending Harris’ vehicle into the northbound lane, causing her to hit the white 2008 Jeep driven by the teenage girl head on.”

Here’s what you need to know:

Maria Elena Cruz Was a High School Student in Taos, New Mexico Who Was Described as Beautiful, Kind, Inspirational

maria elena cruz

Maria Elena Cruz

According to Taos News, Maria was in high school in Taos. Horrifically, her father, Pedro Cruz, the deputy fire chief, responded to the crash, the newspaper reported.

“Yes, REMEMBER MARIA ELENA!” wrote Patsy Anglada Alaniz in a tribute on Facebook.

“I sent the following message earlier this evening to my former EGES 5th grade DL students who are now Taos High School Juniors, in the wake of the tragic loss of their beloved classmate, and my student, Maria Elena Cruz! I had purposely sent it to them as a PM in hopes that they would feel free to express themselves in private, which they did and are. I have since decided to share my message to my former DL students, on my FB wall to bring light to the fact that even though the tragic loss of this beautiful, intelligent, kind, hard working, and inspirational Teen won’t make the FOX and CNN syndicated news, Maria was also treasured, loved, and admired by all who met her. Her tragic death has impacted many young lives, former teachers, her beloved parents and little sister. A life with a future only a few can begin to dream of was cut short through not fault of her own! How many innocents have to die at the hands of someone who chooses to drink and drive before we open our eyes to this cruel and senseless act.”

Taos News reported that “Deputy Chief Pedro Cruz and his family are reeling,” from the loss, per an email from Taos County Fire Manager Mike Cordova. “Pedro’s family is all at home mourning her loss. At this point we are asking that people give the family some space for the next few days.”

To help the family, people can drop off donations to Taos County Fire and EMS office, 1397 Weimer Road in Taos. An enchilada dinner is also being organized to help the family of Maria Elena.

Harris, who was from Wylie, TX near Dallas, posted an Instagram story while she was driving on the day she was killed (about two hours before the crash.)

A screenshot from Kylie Rae Harris’s Instagram story.

She said:

“I’m alright, I look a mess. It’s because I’ve been crying. It’s okay, though. It’s a good cry. I just got to Taos, New Mexico. And I’m playing this festival here… Literally, everybody that was here has passed away, except for my uncle, and including my dad.” She started to break down and cry. She added, “I’m sorry Instagram.”

On September 4, 2019, at 3:05 p.m., she used her iPhone to tweet: “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.”

READ NEXT: The Death & Life of Kylie Rae Harris.