Busboy Who Aided Wounded RFK in 1968 Dies
Juan Romero, the hotel busboy who was photographed holding the head of the mortally wounded Robert Kennedy, has died.
A family friend says Romero died of a heart attack earlier this week in Modesto, California. He was 68.
The Mexican-born Romero was an 18-year-old busboy at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.
New York Senator Robert Kennedy had just made a speech after claiming victory in the California Democratic presidential primary.
As he walked through the hotel kitchen, Kennedy stopped to shake hands with Romero, who had served the senator a room service meal a day earlier.
Seconds later, gunshots were fired and Kennedy dropped to the floor.
In one of the most haunting and poignant photographs of a violent era, Romero was seen kneeling next to the expressionless Kennedy, holding up his head with blood dripping from the back.
Romero pressed rosary beads into the gravely wounded senator’s hand. He asked Romero if everyone was OK and the stunned young man replied yes, before he was pushed away and questioned by police. Romero went to his high school the next morning with Kennedy’s blood still staining his hand.
The photo of Romero and Kennedy appeared on front pages of newspapers and television all over the world within hours. Kennedy died the next day. A Palestinian named Sirhan Sirhan is serving a life sentence for the assassination.
Romero said he carried the guilt of the shooting for much of his life, believing Kennedy would not have been shot if he did not stop for just those few seconds to shake hands with the young man who served him dinner.
Romero gradually overcame his anguish and was working in construction at the time of his death.