Paul L. Vasquez, the burly mountain man whose awestruck reaction upon seeing a double rainbow propelled him to internet stardom and turned him into a folk hero, has died in Central California, the AP reports. He was 57. Vasquez, who called himself Yosemitebear on social media, died early Saturday at a hospital emergency room, the Mariposa County coroner's office told the Modesto Bee. The cause of death has not been released. Vasquez had posted on his Facebook page Tuesday that he had gone to get tested for COVID-19, two days after posting about symptoms he was experiencing, but on Friday night he said in a reply to a commenter, "it’s a long story that ends with me not having Coronavirus but a ticking bomb in my chest that could go off at any moment."
In January 2010, Vasquez posted on YouTube a video shot from his mountainside house of a set of rainbows overlooking the Yosemite valley. He notes in the caption that the camera couldn't capture the rainbows' intensity and brightness. But that wasn't what led to 46 million views of the video. It was Vasquez's reaction. Over the course of 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 all the way across the sky!" he exclaimed. He went on to ponder: “What does it all mean?” The video went viral that summer after Jimmy Kimmel tweeted about it, and it led to appearances on a number of TV shows and commercials for Smartwater, Microsoft, and Delta Air Lines.
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