A former NFL player was one of two rock climbers who were found dead in a remote area near Idyllwild on Wednesday.
The Riverside (Calif.) County sheriff’s coroner’s office identified the victims as Gavin Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh, 33, both of Huntington Beach, California.
Escobar played tight end for the Dallas Cowboys from 2013 to 2016. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds, he had 30 receptions and eight touchdowns in his career.
Cal Fire said a climbing accident involving two injured people was reported around noon local time Wednesday near Tahquitz Rock in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Firefighters hiked to the spot and found both of them dead.
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.
Escobar went to high school in Rancho Margarita and attended San Diego State University. He was a second-round pick by the Cowboys in the 2013 NFL draft. Escobar became a firefighter in Long Beach following his football career.
“It is with deep sadness that we announce the off-duty death of Long Beach Firefighter Gavin Escobar. Hired on February 5, 2022, Firefighter Escobar was assigned to Fire Station 3 on B-shift,” a post on social media from the department read. “Firefighter Escobar leaves behind his wife and two young children.”
Earlier Wednesday, rain and thunderstorms passed through the area, but weather has not been cited as a factor in the deaths.
At the beginning of the year, a hiker died at Tahquitz Peak, also in the San Bernardino Forest, after an apparent fall on rocky and remote terrain. In July, a hiker was injured on a trail east of Pine Cove, near Idyllwild, requiring firefighters to transport her down from a mountaintop.