DailyMail.com executive run down and killed in Thailand 

Family and friends are paying tribute to an inspirational DailyMail.com executive who was tragically run down and killed during a Thanksgiving vacation to Thailand.

Manuela Ruiz, 31, who lived in New York, was traveling in the capital Bangkok with her friend Shaniqua Nicole Hecks, when she was hit while crossing the street on November 25. She was killed instantly.

Her sister Daniela, 28, recalled the moment she’s received the life changing phone call from Manuela’s stricken friend to tell her about the accident.

‘It was devastating,’ she told DailyMail.com. ‘We were very, very close.’ 

Family and friends, who are still reeling from the loss of DailyMail.com executive Manuela Ruiz (pictured) described her as vibrant, and incredibly smart and driven

‘My dad had to go to the hospital when he heard the news because of his blood pressure. We are very sad.’

Incredibly, even in the midst of their grief, the family have been able to find forgiveness for the motorist who killed their daughter.

‘We didn’t want to press charges because we know that it’s an accident,’ Daniela said. ‘There was no alcohol involved, she’s just 24 and a student. But by local law, she’s going to jail.’

‘She was very sad,’ she added. ‘She went to the police station, met my aunt and she asked for the forgiveness of the family.

‘We spoke with her on the phone and we said, “We know it was an accident and we forgive you”.

‘It’s a tragedy for all of us, including her.’

Her family, who are devout Christians, are distraught but believe the accident ‘could have happened anywhere.’

‘It was her time,’ they said.

Family and friends, who are still reeling from the loss of Manuela, described her as vibrant, and incredibly smart and driven. 

Manuela Ruiz, 31, who lived in New York, was traveling in the capital Bangkok with a friend  when she was hit and killed while crossing the street on November 25

Manuela Ruiz, 31, who lived in New York, was traveling in the capital Bangkok with a friend  when she was hit and killed while crossing the street on November 25

Born in Medellin, Colombia, she was the top of her class and scored top in the Colombian national test when she graduated school, according to her family.

When she was just 17, she bravely left her family and friends behind and moved to Miami, and at 18 she enrolled at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in New York.

While she was still in school, she landed the job of art director at Liquid Entertainment development and production company.

‘She was very talented and smart,’ her mother Maria, said in Spanish, through her daughter Daniela. ‘She was a very good daughter and a good sister.

‘She was very independent, fearless and had lots of goals and dreams. She knew she was going to do big things.

‘But she still had a childlike innocence about her.’

Daniela said that her sister was known at home as Manu or Red for her natural red hair – a rarity in Colombia.

‘My mom said she was bright both because of her hair and her talent,’ she said.

Manuela’s proud family said she’d achieved an incredible amount in her 31 years, was ‘very successful at what she did’ and ‘was in a very high place in her career.’

Friends and colleagues of Manuela, who joined DailyMail.com two years ago, are also mourning the loss of the ‘incredibly talented’ individual.

‘She was one of the bravest people I ever met,’ said Ron Elliot, a freelance editor who has worked with Manuela at DailyMail.com and at her first job out of college.

‘I like people with integrity and that really shone through with her.’

DailyMail.com Publisher Martin Clarke said: ‘Everyone was extremely fond of Manuela who in her time here made a huge contribution to the business.

‘She was hard-working and talented and I have no doubt that she had a very exciting career ahead of her.’

DailyMail.com’s chief revenue officer, Alicia Muntzner, also said: ‘She was an incredibly talented individual who made a significant contribution to the business. We will miss Manuela immensely and we are keeping her family in our thoughts and prayers.’ 

Many said that Manuela had spotted hidden talents within others that they may have never discovered on her own.

‘She really pushed people to be more creative,’ said marketing coordinator Mary Kate McCormick who sat across from Manuela.’

‘She pulled out talents people didn’t know they had, and molded people.’

McCormick said that when she saw Manuela at work, she knew she was watching something special.

They were all stunned and upset to hear of their vibrant coworker’s tragic death.

‘It didn’t feel real,’ said Andrew Gooss, a graphic designer at DailyMail.com.

‘The office is a lot less colorful now.’

‘I think a person like that leaves a big hole behind,’ added McCormick, who said she’d been emailing back and forth with Manuela while she was in Thailand until the accident. ‘She wasn’t just someone who blended in. She was the kind of person you couldn’t say no to. You wouldn’t want to.’

Her friends added that while Manuela was a perfectionist with no time for ‘bulls**t’, she was also an incredibly loyal and compassionate person who wanted to raise up those around her.

‘My progression is because of her,’ said Dave Rodriguez, Associate Art Director. ‘I’m just truly blessed to have met her and spent time with her.’

‘I’m crushed,’ said Rodriguez.

While she was committed to her job, Manuela was also incredibly close to her family, who she would send money back to her little sister in Colombia when she could. She also flew home to spend last Christmas surrounded by her loved ones back home.

‘She was very proud of my little sister (Camila, 19) she got into med school,’ Daniela said. ‘They had an amazing relationship.’

Manuela, who lived with her beloved dog Coco in New York, was also known for her bold and quirky style which encapsulated her outlook in life.

With a tattoo that read: ‘Mi vida loca’ or ‘my crazy life’, friends and family say she was ‘fearless.’

‘She had her own style and her own way to see life,’ her sister said. ‘There will never be another person like Manuela.’

‘She was the type of person that, if she thought something was unfair or someone was being mistreated, she would jump to their defense.’

Daniela said Manuela, who was divorced, had been very exited to visit Thailand after the rest of her family went last year.

‘She loved to travel, she’s been all over; to Europe, Mexico, Paris… but this was her first time in Asia.

‘She was extra excited to go to Thailand, we went there last year and we told her how amazing it was.

Manuela had arrived on November 22, with her friend, for a week-long Thanksgiving vacation.  

Manuela was crossing a street in Bangkok (file picture of a random street in Bangkok) when she was run down

Manuela was crossing a street in Bangkok (file picture of a random street in Bangkok) when she was run down

They were four days into the trip when the DailyMail.com senior creative director went to get some cash out of an ATM in Bangkok on the morning of November 25. As she stepped out to cross the street, she was hit and killed by a car.

The female driver, a student in Bangkok, was arrested.

While the family were not certain of her name, yesterday, a woman called Ying Treenapongnukul, who attends Rangsit University in Bangkok, Thailand, posted an apology to ‘Manuela Ruiz’ on Facebook, writing: ‘I ask to forgiveness for her.

‘Sorry for on that day and so sorry for everything . #RIP Miss. Manuela Ruiz Carvajal’.

Manuela was due back in the US on Wednesday this week.

Now her aunt, and brother-in-law have flown out to Thailand to bring back her remains. A cremation was held in Bangkok for Manuela, attended by her family and friend, and her ashes are due to be returned to Colombia on Wednesday.

Her dog Coco is also being brought back by her family.

A funeral service will be held in the South American nation next week.

Her friends are now planning to hold a small memorial in New York while Manuela’s family are holding a service in her home country of Colombia. 

There will be a tribute to celebrate the life of Manuela Ruiz on Thursday, 6:30pm at the District Social 252 W 37th St New York, NY 10018. All are welcome. 


Read more at DailyMail.co.uk