ASHEVILLE, N.C. — A North Carolina woman who earlier this month was caught on video hurling racist and obscene insults at a 14-year-old Black girl and was accused of ripping the hijab off a Muslim woman’s head has died after being struck by a fire department pickup truck.
Rachel Dawn Ruit, 41, died Tuesday, a day after being struck and critically injured in downtown Asheville. Police officials reported that the crash took place around 1:30 p.m. Monday in the 800 block of Patton Avenue.
The crash remains under investigation, but a witness, Jonathan Rowell, described what he saw in a Facebook post.
“Some of you probably saw the video of a white lady near the Vance Monument screaming ‘N-word, N-word,’ seeing as how the video went viral on Facebook,” Rowell wrote. “I just witnessed the same lady from that video accidentally step out into traffic on Patton Avenue, going towards downtown Asheville, as she was walking with traffic coming from behind her.
“The Asheville Fire Department truck that you see in the background is the vehicle that she stepped out in front of.”
The photo accompanying Rowell’s post shows a woman lying on the ground, surrounded by first responders providing medical care. In the foreground, a Black woman is seen from behind.
“There were over a dozen bystanders that had come to see what was going on, and then there was one lady who was praying out loud, and I mean praying very intensely, begging God to please let this lady survive,” Rowell wrote. “And that one person was the Black lady standing right in front of me in this picture. Praying and praying and praying, and in tears for coincidentally the same woman who was yelling the N-word with such hatred in her heart. Just sayin.‘”
The Asheville Citizen-Times reported that Ruit made international news after people posted cellphone video footage of her hurling racial epithets and making threats toward people on June 13 and July 1.
In the June 13 footage, recorded by a family visiting from Charlotte for a birthday dinner, Ruit is heard screaming racial slurs at them. They and bystanders all told ABC 13 in Asheville that the verbal assault was unprovoked.
“She continued to say racial slurs to my face, continue to call me ‘N-word’ over and over and over again,” Aisha Sabur told the news station. “It was the most blatant display of racism that I have ever experienced.”
Watch the June 13 video below. Warning: The footage contains extremely graphic language.
Bystanders in the area for a Black Lives Matter protest saw what was happening and tried to get between Ruit and the family. Ultimately, Ruit was issued a summons for disorderly conduct, ABC 13 reported.
In the graphic footage from July 1, Ruit screams at the young girl recording the video, using racist and sexually-explicit language. Grabbing her own crotch, Ruit threatens to rape the girl and tells her to show her breasts.
She also threatens to slit the girl’s throat and tells the girl to “keep it up” because she’s going to rip the girl’s breasts off.
Nahlah Karimah, who posted the July 1 video on Twitter, wrote that after the footage was recorded, Ruit “pulled out a knife and chased a #Latinx child with it.” Karimah said the girl was struck in the face by Ruit as she was on the phone with police.
The police, who Karimah wrote were just on the other side of the tree line in the park where the encounter took place, never responded, she alleged.
See the July 1 video below. Warning: The footage contains extremely graphic language.
Ruit was arrested July 4 following a second encounter with Karimah, whose hijab she allegedly ripped off, and the 14-year-old Black girl she was accused of assaulting.
“Less than two hours ago, #WhiteSupremacist #RachelRuit ripped my #hijab off, bit my face and beat a Black teen girl after yelling racial slurs. When I tried to pull her off the Black child, other racists jumped in,” Karimah tweeted that day. “A #RacistKaren grabbed my arms while a white man choked me from behind. I was then pepper-sprayed by one of them. #ThankAllah for the decent #ally who stepped in and saved me and the girl.”
A witness, Ernesta Carter, told the Citizen-Times she was downtown for a Black Lives Matter protest when she heard Ruit tell the Black teen she needed to be “put down” and if she fought back, she “would be raped.” Carter said Ruit then grabbed the girl’s groin.
Carter said she began running toward the girl and Karimah to help them.
“As I got close, I saw the woman attack (Karimah) and pull off her hijab,” Carter told the newspaper. “Pepper spray started flying.”
Carter said she wrestled Ruit off the girl, at which time Ruit spat at her.
Ruit, who police officials said was known to them for her prior harassment and hate speech, was arrested and charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and second-degree trespassing, according to the Asheville Police Department.
Social media users, including Karimah, had little sympathy for Ruit after she was injured in the crash. When tweeting about Ruit’s hospitalization, Karimah used the hashtags #RachelRuitgoingthroughit and #KarmaforKaren.
She later pointed out that local media was reporting Ruit’s subsequent death.
Cox Media Group