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Former Cowboys TE Gavin Escobar dies in rock climbing accident, officials say

Escobar was one of two rock climbers who died in an accident in California, according to officials.
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar (89) jogs off the field during a preseason NFL football game against the Houston Texans on Thursday Sept. 1, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Former Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar was one of two rock climbers who died in an accident in California on Wednesday, according to officials.

Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh, 33, were found dead during an attempted rescue by the Riverside County Fire Department around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday at Tahquitz Rock in the Idyllwild area.

The department said firefighters tried hiking to the victims' location but when they made it to the two climbers, Escobar and Walsh had died.

The Riverside County coroner's office officially identified the two victims. The cause of death is unknown as the investigation continues.

Escobar was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played for Dallas from 2013 to 2016 in a backup role.

The 31-year-old went to high school in Orange County, California, and went to college at San Diego State University.

Escobar's mother told WFAA in a brief statement, "He was a great father, husband, and son. Just heartbroken now."

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones in a interview with Audacy's 105.3 The Fan called Escobar's death "just tragic."

“I personally enjoyed my time that he was with the Cowboys and the occasions we had to say hello and visit," Jones said. "He was living a life that he enjoyed doing to be engaged in the kind of activities that he wanted to be. Thankful for that much. It’s just so sad, so young.”  

San Diego State football coach Brady Hoke called Escobar "a great man, father, son and teammate."

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gavin's family," Hoke said. "I know his wife, Sarah, and daughters, Josey and Charlotte, were everything to him."

After leaving football in 2019, Escobar would become a firefighter for the Long Beach Fire Department.

The department mourned the death of Escobar, saying he was hired on Feb. 5, 2022.

"It is with deep sadness that we announce the off-duty death of Long Beach Firefighter Gavin Escobar," the department said in a Facebook post.

The fire department said Escobar had a wife and two children.

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