Paul L. Vasquez posted a video of himself on YouTube laughing and crying with joy at seeing a double rainbow back in 2010
“Oh my god! It’s a double rainbow all the way across the sky,” cries Paul L. Vasquez as his shaky camera work captures two arcs of colour near California’s Yosemite National Park. “What does it mean?”
Vasquez, whose 2010 video became one of YouTube’s purest relics, sadly passed away on Saturday (May 9), aged 57. Before his death, the former firefighter posted on Facebook about experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, but was doubtful he actually had the virus.
“My lungs are feeling congested,” he wrote, “I’m suspecting pollen. I have a fever of 100.2, and I’m having a little trouble breathing if I walk in my apartment, but it’s not too bad if I’m not moving. I signed up to make an appointment to get a COVID-19 test here in Mariposa on Tuesday.”
Vasquez said he “vowed never again to go to an ER or hospital”, and asked his followers not to give him “any advice or sympathy”. He added: “Whatever happens, I’m ready for it. I’m happy to experience it all; 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.”
Known as Bear, Vasquez achieved viral fame a few months after uploading his three-and-a-half-minute double rainbow video to YouTube, when the clip was picked up by Jimmy Kimmel. After joining Kimmel on his show, Vasquez saw his video spark merch, autotune remixes, ads, and a cover by Jimmy Fallon in the style of Neil Young.
Vasquez continued to post on YouTube, but none of his videos achieved the same viral success as his double rainbow clip, which currently has over 47 million views. Vasquez got a coronavirus test on May 5, and was awaiting his results when he died in a Mariposa County hospital just three days later.