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Former NFL and SDSU football player, 2nd rock climber found dead near Idyllwild

Gavin Escobar
Lynne Sladky
Associated Press
FILE - Miami Dolphins tight end Gavin Escobar walks off the field at the NFL team's training camp, July 26, 2018, in Davie, Fla. Two rock climbers, including the former NFL player, were found dead near a Southern California peak after rescue crews responded to reports of injuries, authorities said Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2022.

A pair of climbers who died trying to scale a mountainside east of Idyllwild were identified Friday as a man and woman from Huntington Beach.

Gavin Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh, 33, were fatally injured about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday near the Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout, southeast of Humber Park, within the San Bernardino National Forest, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

Escobar played in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens from 2013 to 2017. He was a tight end and had 30 catches for 333 yards and eight touchdowns in five seasons. He ended his professional football career in the Alliance of American Football in 2019.


Escobar worked for the Long Beach Fire Department and was a football player at San Diego State University.

"We are devastated to hear about the passing of Gavin Escobar. Gavin was the epitome of a student-athlete, and a leader on and off the field. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gavin's family in this incredibly difficult time," San Diego State Athletic Director John David Wicker said in a statement.

Officials indicated that the victims died while climbing a "rock face," but no other details were available.

It was unknown whether they were seasoned or amateur climbers.

Two witnesses spotted the victims and called 911, managing to get marginal mobile phone reception in the remote area.


According to the Riverside County Fire Department, multiple engine crews and a sheriff's helicopter crew were sent to the location to mount a search-and-rescue operation.

Firefighters hiked a steep trail, reaching the place where the victims were spotted by 1:20 p.m.

Escobar and Walsh were pronounced dead at the scene.

Escobar is survived by his wife and two children.

The matter was turned over to sheriff's deputies following the discovery.

The investigation is ongoing.

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