Those that knew Manuel Abotye knew how to get past his reserved exterior.

“It doesn’t really show from his photos but he is such a jokester,” his niece Deniff Hollingsworth said.

Although a native of a small Mexican ranch town of Sinaloa de Leyva, Aboyte would visit his family in North Long Beach at least once a year. There, he would frequent local stores on a bicycle, looking to buy scratch-off Lottery tickets, his family said.

But on March 30, Aboyte left the family’s home, looking to visit the nearest gas station, and never returned home. Shortly after, his family would report him missing and begin posting about their missing uncle on social media.

It wasn’t until Saturday, April 16, that his family discovered Aboyte had died the day he went missing. Hollingsworth said her uncle was cycling around 11 a.m. near the Paramount area when he began experiencing shortness of breath. Paramedics transported Aboyte to the hospital where he died within 30 minutes, said Hollingsworth who pointed to the cause as a heart attack.

Because her uncle had left his identification at home that morning, authorities had no way of notifying his family that he had passed away more than two weeks ago, said Hollingsworth, who spent nearly every day since Aboyte’s disappearance calling hospitals and the coroner’s office trying to track him down.

“We’re gonna miss him,” Hollingsworth said. “He was a great man, a great father and a great grandfather.”

The family is now working with authorities on the next steps to transport Aboyte’s body to his family back home in Sinaloa.

Family searches for 74-year-old man missing since March 30