Juan Romero, The Busboy Who Tried To Help Wounded Robert F. Kennedy, Has Died

Romero's life was haunted by the violence.

Juan Romero
Busboy Juan Romero who assisted Senator Robert F. Kennedy after Kennedy was fatally shot giving his statement on June 5, 1968 during his Presidential Campaign at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, CA. (Frank Carroll/NBC NewsWire)

Juan Romero, the busboy who tried to help a wounded Robert F. Kennedy the night he was shot in Los Angeles, has died at age 68.

Romero was forever haunted by what happened just after midnight on June 5, 1968, when he was working at the Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard near Koreatown. That was the night that Robert F. Kennedy, a candidate for president of the United States, was shot after he was declared the winner in the South Dakota and California presidential primaries in the 1968 election. Romero, who was 17 at the time, squatted next to the fallen president and held his cradled Kennedy’s head. Romero tried to help the candidate up before he realized how gravely wounded Kennedy was, reports The Los Angeles Times. 

Sen. Robert Kennedy sprawled semi-conscious in his own blood after being shot in brain and neck while busboy Juan Romero tries to comfort him, in kitchen at hotel. (Bill Eppridge/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)
The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

For decades, Romero tried to escape the memory of this moment, documented forever by photographers. He left Los Angeles and moved to Wyoming. He became a construction worker, settled in San Jose, Calif. and raised a family. The Los Angeles Times writes that he still spent years refusing to mark his birthday because it was the same month as RFK’s assassination. But in recent years, he had finally started to let go of the memory. Which is why his death seems all the more tragic.

“He had a heart attack several days ago and his brain went too long without oxygen,” said his longtime friend, TV newsman Rigo Chacon of San Jose according to The Los Angeles Times. “He passed away on Monday morning.”

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