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Ex-NFL Player Gavin Escobar, SoCal Cinematographer Killed While Rock Climbing

Former NFL tight end Gavin Escobar and a 33-year-old Huntington Beach woman were identified Thursday as the two people killed while rock climbing in the Southern California mountains.

Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh were fatally injured at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday near the Tahquitz Peak Fire Lookout, southeast of Humber Park, in the Idyllwild area.

Escobar played in the NFL for five seasons — four with the Dallas Cowboys and one with the Baltimore Ravens — from 2013 to 2017. The tight end from San Diego State University had 30 catches for 333 yards and eight touchdowns. Escobar was briefly a member of the Kansas City Chiefs, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gavin’s family,” said San Diego State Head Coach Brady Hoke. “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.”

SDSU’s director of athletic, John David Wicker, described Escobar as the “epitome of a student-athlete, and a leader on and off the field.”

His professional football career included a stint in the now defunct Alliance of American Football.

Escobar also worked for the Long Beach Fire Department.

“It is with deep sadness that we announce the off-duty death of Long Beach Firefighter Gavin Escobar,” the department said in a statement. “Hired on February 5, 2022, Firefighter Escobar was assigned to Fire Station 3 on B-shift.”

Walsh’s family said she was an avid rock climber, who also had a passion for cinematography.

“The best human being I’ve ever met in my life,” said father Donovan Walsh. “I know she’s my daughter, but she never ceased to amaze me and anybody else that she was with.”

Walsh produced documentaries for Road Trip Nation, a nonprofit dedicated to empowering youth.

“She has excelled there beyond belief,” said Walsh. “You can’t walk into any office without a picture of Chelsea.”

It was not immediately clear whether Walsh was working at the time of the rock climbing accident.

Escobar and Walsh died while climbing a rock face in steep terrain in the San Jacinto Mountains about 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Details about a cause of death were not immediately available.

Two witnesses saw the victims and called 911. Fire-rescue personnel, including a crew in a helicopter, were dispatched to the site for a search-and-rescue operation.

Firefighters hiked up a steep trail to reach the location. Escobar and Walsh were died at the scene.

Rain fell that day in Southern California, but authorities did not say whether that was a factor.

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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