A beloved 69-year veteran of the Guadalajara Red Cross who gained national prominence in the aftermath of the 2017 earthquakes died on Thursday after being hit by a delivery vehicle.
Roberto González Pulido, 91, suffered a skull fracture in the accident that occurred in the historic center of the Jalisco capital.
He was crossing a road on his way home when he was struck, the newspaper El Heraldo de México reported. Red Cross paramedics transferred González to hospital but he died hours later.
Comandante Pulido, as the veteran was widely known, joined the Red Cross as a 21-year-old in 1950 and served tirelessly as a volunteer right up until the day of his death.
During his years of service, González helped countless victims of accidents and natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes.
After the September 7, 2017, earthquake that devastated southern Mexico, the Guadalajara Red Cross posted a photo on Twitter of Comandante Pulido that showed the then 89-year-old carrying boxes of supplies to be sent to victims.
The photo went viral on social media just after the September 19, 2017 earthquake, inspiring cartoonists, including the well-known Rictus, to immortalize González in their work, and bringing him to national attention as Mexico mourned the victims of the twin quakes and started the long process to clean up and rebuild.
At the time, he told the newspaper El País that he didn’t expect to receive so much attention for the work he had been doing for most of his life.
“. . . I feel that I don’t deserve so much [attention],” he said. “I joined the Red Cross because of what my mother taught me. She taught me to take atole or bread to the poor; that had a big effect on me. My mom also sent me to visit sick people to try to get them not to cry, to get them to have the best time they could.”
While González remained modest, he was a hero in the eyes of Mexicans, including his colleagues at the Guadalajara Red Cross.
“He’s an example for all of us who see him working every day from seven in the morning to send help. He’s a great man,” Red Cross representative Fanny Hernández told El País in 2017.
After his passing, González’s daughter told El Heraldo de México: “His life was the Red Cross – always as a volunteer, he never received a salary.”