Mario Vazquez shocked American Idol fans by dropping out of the competition last year – but weeks earlier, he gave one special viewer a different kind of emotional jolt. After a 16-year separation, Vazquez’s father, Mario Rivera, was channel-surfing in his living room when he spotted his son on the show.
“He saw my audition tape and tripped out,” Vazquez tells PEOPLE. “He cried to my aunt, ‘Mario’s there! Mario’s there!’ ” Not long afterward – in that very living room – father and son reunited.