MARIPOSA – Paul L. Vasquez, the strong mountain man whose astounded reaction to seeing a double rainbow propelled him to Internet celebrity and transformed him into a popular hero, died in central California . He was 57 years old.
Vasquez, who called himself Yosemitebear on social media, died early Saturday in a hospital emergency room, Mariposa County Coroner’s office tell Modesto Bee.
The cause of death has not been released. Vasquez had recently posted on his Facebook page that he had been tested for COVID-19 but had learned of another unspecified disease.
In January 2010, Vasquez posted on YouTube a video taken from his mountainside home of a set of rainbows overlooking the Yosemite Valley. He notes in the legend that the camera could not capture the intensity and the brightness of the rainbows.
But that’s not what led to 46 million views of the video. It was Vasquez’s reaction.
During the 3-minute video, he repeatedly said “whoa”, laughed and even sobbed as he marveled at the sight of the rainbows.
“It’s a double rainbow across the sky!” he got excited.
He then meditated: “What does all this mean?”
The video went viral that summer after talk show host Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about it, and has led to appearances on a number of TV shows and commercials for Smartwater, Microsoft, and Delta. Air Lines.
“His” Double Rainbow “essentially wrote the book on what a viral video was,” said Vasquez’s friend Robert Borchard to the Bee. He called Vasquez an “amazing character” who was always enthusiastic about the world.
In an interview with CNN in 2015, Vasquez said he worked as a Los Angeles County firefighter before moving in the mid-1980s to Mariposa, where he worked odd jobs and lived alone in a mobile home near the park. National of Yosemite.
Producer and cannabis user, he said he wasn’t tall when he shot the video. He told CNN that his loneliness allowed him to connect with nature on a deep level and gave him a freedom that most people could never understand.
“You can no longer look at a rainbow and not think of me,” he said.