Gavin Escobar, former Cowboys tight end, found dead in rock-climbing incident


Former NFL tight end Gavin Escobar was found dead Thursday after an apparent attempt to scale a rock face near Idyllwild, Calif. He was 31.

A report shared online by the Riverside County coroner’s office cited two deaths Thursday, that of Escobar and also of 33-year-old Chelsea Walsh, both of Huntington Beach, Calif. The location of their deaths was listed as “a rockface,” with the time of death at 1:18 pm after an injury at 12:21 pm.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection shared an “inaccessible rescue” report of two injured rock climbers Thursday afternoon. The agency stated that after a mountain rescue team was requested, rescuers were able to reach the victims, who were described as having “perished at the scene.”

The site of the incident was Tahquitz Rock, a popular rock-climbing spot in California’s San Jacinto mountain range.

Escobar, who played in the NFL from 2013 to 2017, had been working as a firefighter in Long Beach, Calif. The fire department there said on social media Thursday that it was announcing the news of his death “with deep sadness.” Noting that Escobar was hired as a firefighter in February, the LBFD said he leaves behind a wife and two young children.

Born in New York, Escobar was a high school standout in Orange County, Calif., before spending three seasons at San Diego State. Aztecs Coach Brady Hoke said Thursday in a statement, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gavin’s family. I know his wife, Sarah, and daughters, Josey and Charlotte, were everything to him. Gavin was a great man, father, son and teammate, and will be deeply missed by all.”

Escobar was selected in the second round of the 2013 draft by the Dallas Cowboys, with whom he played for four years, accumulating 30 catches for 333 yards and eight touchdowns. His final NFL season came with the Baltimore Ravens in 2017, after which he played for the San Diego Fleet in the short-lived Alliance of American Football league.

“Gavin was the epitome of a student-athlete, and a leader on and off the field,” said SDSU athletic director John David Wicker. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Gavin’s family at this incredibly difficult time.”


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