Leroy N. Soetoro
2019-09-10 19:17:50 UTC
TAOS, N.M. (KRQE) The Taos community is mourning the loss of a 16-year-
old high school girl who was killed in a car crash thats earned national
Maria Elena Cruz has been identified as the teen victim in a crash that
killed two Wednesday night on Highway 522, north of Taos. The crash made
headlines earlier this week after a Texas country music singer, 30-year-
old Kylie Rae Harris was identified as the first victim.
Friday, Taos County Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe made it clear that investigators
believe Harris likely caused the crash. Hogrefe also said people need to
pay more attention to the other side of the tragedy: the innocent girl who
lost her life.
A Taos High School student, Cruz was a junior honor student and a sister
who also worked with her uncle at a Taos restaurant called the Guadalajara
Grill. Her family told KRQE News 13 Friday the teen had a bright future.
We dont want her name to be forgotten, because she had so much of her
life ahead. Cruzs uncle Pedro Soliz said. She was a very good student
and wanted to study and for people to take her away, thats not right.
At a benefit dinner Friday night, Cruzs friends wore purple to remember
She always had a big heart, she was so kind, and caring, said Giovonnie
Taos County Sheriffs investigators say Cruz was heading home from work
Wednesday night, going northbound on Highway 522. Investigators believe
Kylie Rae Harris vehicle clipped a car, then veered into oncoming traffic
in front of Cruzs car. Both Cruz and Harris died on scene.
Cruzs father is a volunteer deputy fire chief for San Cristobal Fire. The
night of the crash, Cruzs father responded to the crash scene, unaware
that his daughter was involved.
Hes also an EMT, so hes 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, Sheriff Hogrefe
Dozens of community members hosted a benefit dinner at the San Cristobal
Community Center Friday night to raise money for the funeral costs.
They just want the community to remember their daughter, Maria Elena, as
kind loving and caring, wonderful daughter, wonderful sister, and just
kind-hearted soul, said Taos County Fire Chief Mike Cordova.
Friends say the Taos community has lost someone special in Cruzs death.
She would always be there for other people if theyre like sad or
anything, she was just good in every possible way, said Alexandra
Salazar, a friend of Cruzs.
The Taos County Sheriff says investigators believe Harris was speeding and
may have been drinking, but theyre waiting on results from toxicology
tests to make a final determination.
Harris has a history of DWI. She was arrested for drunk driving in the
Dallas area back in 2017. Her breath alcohol level was double the legal
limit. She just had her ignition interlock ordered after that case removed
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