'Double Rainbow' YouTube Star Paul L. Vasquez Dies at 57: 'A Bright Spot in This Dark World'


Paul L. Vasquez, the man who became a YouTube star for his "Double Rainbow" video, has died. He was 57.

Vasquez died on Saturday afternoon in the John C. Fremont Hospital emergency room, the Mariposa County Coroner’s Office confirms to PEOPLE.

"Paul was a neat man and a friend to many in Mariposa County and beyond," Sheriff Doug Binnewies says of the Mariposa resident and internet sensation, affectionately known to many as "Bear."

Though the cause of his death remains unclear, it came just days after he disclosed on Facebook that he had been experiencing health problems amid the coronavirus pandemic and refused to go to a hospital because "that's where people go to die."

"I thought I might be having a heart attack today but I’ve vowed never again to go to an ER or hospital so I just rode it out. It took me several minutes to catch my breath after walking 50 feet, I went to the farm feeling weak, did what I needed to do came home and took a nap," he wrote on May 3.

Vasquez went on to note that his "lungs are feeling congested," he was was experiencing a fever of 100.2, and that he was "having a little trouble breathing" — symptoms that ultimately led him to schedule an appointment to be tested for COVID-19 on May 5.

"Please don’t give me any advice, or sympathy I don’t want it. I seriously doubt that I have the virus because I’ve been pretty careful but who knows right?" he wrote in the post.

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"Whatever happens I’m ready for it, I’m happy to experience it all," he continued. "It might only be pollen and I’ll have more time in my apartment, if it’s the virus and it’s my time to recycle I look forward to coming back to a new body and starting over, whatever happens I’m enjoying the ride."

Two days later, Vasquez updated his followers while at the COVID-19 testing site, 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. I’ll update later on."

Vasquez rose to fame in 2010 after recording his astonished — and hilariously emotional — reaction to a double rainbow near his home. The video, which was posted on YouTube, has since been viewed over 47 million times.

From there, he became a viral sensation, catching the attention of celebrities like Jimmy Kimmel, starring in a number of commercials, and even earning a nomination for favorite viral video star at the 37th People’s Choice Awards in 2011, according to The Modesto Bee.

"I'm the world's authority on rainbows," Vasquez joked to CNN in 2015. "I'm supposed to unite humanity under the rainbow."

Prior to his internet fame, Vasquez had lived an "interesting" life as a firefighter for Los Angeles County, a long-haul trucker, a security officer, an emergency medical technician, firefighter, and seasonal utility worker at Yosemite National Park, CNN reported.

He also had a brief stint as a professional cage fighter in 2005, though he gave it up after just one match, according to the outlet.

At the time of his death, the Mariposa resident was divorced and living alone in his mobile, mountainside home near Yosemite. He also had an adult son and daughter.

Following the tragic news, many of Vasquez's friends and followers rushed to pay tribute to him on Facebook.

"You were a shaft of light. Keep shining," wrote one user, while another added: "You were a bright spot in this dark world. Fly high beyond the double rainbow."

"You had a good heart and brought a lot of joy to lots of people," commented someone else.

"You will be missed Bear! So fortunate that our paths crossed. May your love and passion live on in the lives that touched you and may you enjoy all the rainbows from a different view. Rest easy friend!" added another user.

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