Rising Country Star Kylie Rae Harris Dead At 30

She took the life of 16-year-old girl as well.

How Did Kylie Rae Harris Die? Rising Country Star Killed In Tragic Car Crash instagram

Country music has given us huge names like Reba McEntire, Carrie Underwood, Jason Aldean, Maren Morris, Luke Bryan, Kacey Musgraves, and so many more talented musicians. Unfortunately, not every rising star becomes the country music legend they aspire to be, and in the case of one young woman, her opportunities were cut short.

On September 4, a 30-year-old Texas up-and-coming country singer passed away. But how did Kylie Rae Harris die? Harris was on her way to play at the Big Barn Music Festival in Taos, New Mexico when she was killed in a car accident. The crash claimed the lives of Harris, as well as 16-year-old Maria Elena Cruz. The third driver escaped without injury.


RELATED: Meet Rebecca Broxterman — Kevin Hart's Personal Trainer Involved In Gruesome Car Accident With Him

On her way to the festival, Harris posted a story on Instagram, explaining that she had spent the “last 20 years of my life” traveling to Taos with her sister and dad to visit her family members. 

Eerily, she recalled:


“Literally everybody that was here passed away except for my uncle,  including my dad, and I'm going to cry... I started getting real sad [while driving] 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... with my dad and my sister. 

I was in the back seat, asleep... and we hit something really hard and I popped up my head and was like, ‘What was that?’ and my dad said, ‘Cow guard’, but really he had hit a cow... I know that’s very depressing, but just the fact that I was on my trek through the mountains, and I was crying and I was sad and all of a sudden these cows appeared out of nowhere and, you know, we grieve in different ways, but like, I don't know.”

Her rep released a statement to Fox News, saying, “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.”

But what caused this tragic accident that killed two people? According to authorities, Harris is the source of the accident, and alcohol was a factor as well as speed. Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe revealed, “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 toxicology report from (the) investigation will confirm or deny alcohol or other substances in both drivers.”


According to Hogrefe, Harris was speeding when she hit the back of another vehicle which sent her into oncoming traffic. She then crashed into Cruz’s SUV head-on. Cruz’s father, Pedro Cruz, works with as a Taos County Firefighter/EMT, and unfortunately, he responded to the scene and found his daughter dead. Both Harris and Cruz were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.



A post shared by Every Day a Famous Dies (@everydayafamousdies) on Sep 8, 2019 at 7:08am PDT

Hogrefe also added, “[Pedro is] 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.”

RELATED: Texas Newlywed Couple Killed Moments After Wedding Ceremony In Freak Car Accident


It also appears that Harris had struggled with alcohol before the crash that claimed her life. She had a prior DWI conviction in Texas in 2017, charged with driving while intoxicated with a BAC of over .15. She was ordered to install an ignition interlock device on her vehicle. 

In 2014, she was cited for driving 81 MPH in a 60 MPH area. In 2009, she was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon but was granted deferred adjudication, which is “a form of probation in Texas that allowed a ‘guilty’ or ‘no contest’ plea to be scrubbed from her record if she completed the terms of the agreement.” Charges were dismissed in 2012.

According to her mother, Betsy Cowan, drinking was “something [Kylie] struggled with on-and-off over the years.” Cowan also said Harris may have just been tired, not under the influence, when she caused the crash.

Cowan told People:


“If you’ve ever had to take defensive driving, they say sleep deprivation, emotions and alcohol are the top three contributors to most wrecks. And so any one of those things could have done it... She had driven 11 or 12 hours that day, and I’m sure that she was exhausted and she was emotionally exhausted. And I think we all know what that does to you.

If you’ve ever had a little kid and they run around the living room in circles trying to keep themselves awake and they look like they’re on steroids — I think that after driving 12 hours and being excited and wanting to stay awake, that that’s the probable frame of mind that she was in at that point. And that’s probably not safe, but we really won’t know the answer for quite some time.

Texas is a huge state, and she would drive all up and down the state highways to remote towns and out in the middle of nowhere. Those musicians are traveling at 2 o’clock in the morning when everybody out there is dangerous. It’s a very dangerous life to lead. But she was made to do what she did, and I would never want her to have not been that.

It’s something that we worried about quite a bit when she started traveling like that because she wasn’t, honestly, famous enough to have a driver. She drove herself everywhere and sometimes her car was working well and sometimes it wasn’t. It was a daily struggle for her, and that’s true for a lot of startup musicians.”

Along with the video Harris posted of her memories in Taos, Cowan added that the last memories she had of her family were heartbreaking. Said People, “When Harris’ father was last in the northern New Mexico town, he was visiting his terminally ill mother, who died shortly after. Within 10 days of Harris’ grandmother's death, her aunt also died. When Harris’ father went to the doctor upon arriving home from Taos, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died nine months later.”



A post shared by Rustic Kreations (@rustickreations) on Sep 6, 2019 at 8:48am PDT

Friends and family have gotten together to remember both Harris and Cruz. Cruz, who was a sophomore at Taos High, was described as kind, intelligent, hard working, inspirational, and beautiful. A GoFundMe has been set up, as well as a fundraiser dinner, to cover funeral expenses. 


For Harris, she had just released a self-titled album earlier this year, and spent the summer traveling to shows around Texas. At the age of 14, she started writing songs, released two albums in the last two years, and worked with Radney Foster, Jerry Jeff Walker, Patty Griffin, Jon Randall, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Dave Berg. She’s survived by her six-year-old daughter, Corbie.

RELATED: Is Loretta Lynn Dying? New Details On The Country Music Legend's Health — And Her Response To The Rumors

Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.