Paul L. Vasquez, the 2010 internet sensation whose astonished reaction to seeing a double rainbow went viral, died on Saturday. He was 57.
Vasquez died in the emergency room of John C. Fremont Hospital, the Mariposa County coroner’s office told the Modesto Bee.
Although a cause of death is not confirmed, Vasquez had been posting on Facebook that he was feeling sick and having trouble breathing. On May 5, he posted he was getting tested for COVID-19, writing: “I’ll get my results in two days, however at this point I’m fairly certain that I don’t have it. I didn’t have a fever. Something else is going on with me.”
The viral star, who referred to himself as Yosemitebear on social media, rose to fame in 2010 after recording his hilarious awestruck and emotional reaction to seeing a double rainbow from his home near Yosemite valley. The video, which was posted to YouTube, has since been viewed over 47 million times.
From there, Vasquez became an internet favorite, catching the attention of late night host Jimmy Kimmel who invited Vasquez on his show. He went on to book commercial deals with Smartwater, Delta, Microsoft and the telecom company Vodafone New Zealand.
In a 2015 CNN profile, Vasquez shared his life before fame, working as a firefighter for Los Angeles County, a security officer, an emergency medical technician, a long-haul trucker and seasonal utility worker at Yosemite National Park.
For decades, the Mariposa resident, originally from East Los Angeles, lived alone in his mobile home near Yosemite. Vasquez was divorced and a father of two grown children, a son and a daughter.
“You can’t look at a rainbow anymore and not think about me,” said Vasquez in the CNN profile. “ That’s just the way it is.”