A Bronx business owner, entrepreneur and close community friend known primarily for his coconut-flavored ices passed away after a tragic accident, leaving friends and family members stunned and sorrow-filled.
Alfredo Thiebaud, founder and president of Delicioso Coco Helado, died on Friday, September 19 at the age of 74 after being crushed by an electric overhead security gate.
Friday was just another workday for Thiebaud, who had just finished sweeping outside his factory at 849 St. Anns Avenue and activated an electric overhead gate to close.
After activating the gate, Alfredo somehow ended up on the ground while the gate continued to descend, crushing his chest and neck. He was pronounced dead at the scene when police found his body jammed under the gate.
On Friday afternoon, many of Thiebaud’s friends and employees stood outside the factory, creating an impromptu memorial in front of the gate with a photo of him surrounded by flowers and lighted candles, while decorating the factory with images of tropical fruit.
This terrible accident left many Bronxites deeply saddened and emotionally distraught, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.
“Mr. Thiebaud always gave back to the community, and was among our borough’s greatest humanitarians. He was always quick to help a community group or a school with their event, donating money, time or product to numerous worthy causes across the city,” said Diaz Jr., who recalls buying ices from Alfredo when he was a kid living in the south Bronx, calling them “coquitos.”
“He was a great man and a great friend who was always there for us and for the Bronx, and this tragic accident has deprived us of one of the best.”
Thiebaud was born in Honduras in 1939. By the 1960s he had immigrated to the Bronx with a vision of a business that recreated a dessert that was popular in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He made his home and his business all in one, starting his coconut flavored-ice business “Delicioso Coco Helado” in 1967, in the kitchen of his south Bronx apartment. He would eventually added more flavors such as cherry and mango.
As Delicioso Coco Helado expanded, Alfredo employed workers and supplied vendors with pushcarts that he built himself in his factory basement. These employees became his family, as well as the Bronx community and the organizations that he supported.
Despite running a growing flavored ice business, Thiebaud still made time to visit his mother and the rest of his family in Honduras every Mother’s Day.
The wake for Thiebaud was on Monday, September 22 at the Schuyler Hill Funeral Home, which was attended by Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernandez, among others. His interment was the following day.