Paul Reyes was an Arvin high school graduate who spent six years as a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. He was 25 years old and co-workers say he was hardworking and were surprised when didn't show up to work Wednesday.
"It was a sad day for us when he didn't show up to work and we got a call from the family who said that he had passed," said Richard Moe, a co-worker of Reyes'. "We brought all the technicians in from work that afternoon so I could come and talk to everybody and some of the guys were pretty emotional," said Moe.
Reyes was an AT&T technician and member of Communications Workers of America, or CWA. The group washed cars in Northwest Bakersfield on Sunday to raise money for Reyes' burial.
"Paul was a great guy with a great heart, he always wanted to help you," said Erinn Stiles, Reyes' co-worker, "He was always smiling. He was just a fun guy to be around."
Reyes did a tour in Iraq and got out of the service last September. On Wednesday, his mother found him not breathing in his South Bakersfield apartment. She says emergency crews told her Reyes died of natural causes.
"As of right now, we don't know anything, we don't know why or how," said Reyes' sister Susan, "I still can't believe it, feels like it's unreal."
It's a sudden loss to a little sister who would love just one more moment with her brother.
"It's a big loss for our entire family because we've never lost anyone," Susan said, "Not from my dad's side or my mom's side, this is the first loss in the entire family."
Susan Reyes says her brother was healthy, physically fit, and had a black belt in karate. That's why his death is such a shock to everyone who knew him.
"Being a young marine, and going over there and serving his country that's the greatest honor that somebody can do for us," Moe said. "It's a shame that he didn't have an opportunity to be able to be able to work here for a long time and have the life that he wanted to have."
The family expects autopsy results for Reyes in six weeks. He never married or had children.
"He was just starting what he really wanted, he already had the job he wanted, he was in the process of buying his own home, he was so happy about," Susan Reyes said, "He was starting up his life, everything was going good and then to have something like this was shocking."
A viewing will be held on Wednesday at Reyes' parents' home in Lamont at 5 p.m. followed by a rosary.
Reyes’ funeral will be on Thursday at 10 a.m. at Saint Augustine Church in Lamont, followed by a burial at Arvin Cemetery.