The young man who featured in an iconic image of Senator Robert F. Kennedy moments after he had been shot has died of a heart attack aged 68. Juan Romero was just 17 years of age when, after shaking the Senator’s hand, he witnessed the fatal assassination.
Romero was captured cradling the dying Senator, and comforting him during his final moments. Kennedy had been shot in the head and was barely conscious, but that didn’t stop the youngster from placing rosary beads in his hand and reassuring him that everything was going to be alright, according to the Daily Mail.
“Is everybody OK?” Kennedy asked him as he began to drift out of consciousness.
“Yes,” Romero replied.
“Everything will be okay,” Kennedy uttered, before passing out.
For years, Romero blamed himself for Kennedy’s assassination, and wish he could have done more.
“I’ve always felt a great deal of empathy for him because of how difficult it was for him to move past that,” said Maria Shriver, Kennedy’s niece after hearing news of his death.
“It’s kind of hard to know why someone gets put into a situation that they’re locked in forever. But as I see it, he was locked into an image of helping someone.”
But RFK’s last moments loomed large in his mind for the rest of his life.
“I will never forget the handshake and the look,” Romero recalled in an interview, as reported by the New York Times. “Looking right at you with those piercing eyes that said, ‘I’m one of you. We’re good.'”