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Ex-Dallas Cowboys tight end among 2 rock climbers found dead in California

NBC News 9/30/2022 Tim Stelloh
© Provided by NBC News

A former Dallas Cowboys tight end was one of two rock climbers who died after falling a "significant height" on a Southern California mountain, officials said Thursday.

Gavin Escobar, 31, and a second climber, Chelsea Walsh, 33, both fell Wednesday at Tahquitz Rock, a popular climbing destination 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Riverside County Sheriff's Sgt. Brandy Swan said.

The cause of death was not listed in coroner's records but Swan said their deaths appeared to be a "complete accident."

Despite recent rain, she said it did not appear that weather played a factor in their deaths.

A spokesman for the Long Beach Fire Department, where Escobar began working earlier this year, confirmed his death Thursday at Tahquitz Rock. Escobar had been assigned to a station north of downtown Long Beach, the department said in a statement.

"Prior to being a Long Beach Firefighter, Gavin Escobar played professional football for the NFL, where he spent most of his time with the Dallas Cowboys," the department said on Twitter. "Firefighter Escobar leaves behind his wife and two young children."

The Cal Fire/Riverside Fire Department said Wednesday that they responded to a report of two injured climbers at Tahquitz Rock at 12:25 p.m. 

Firefighters found the pair in a remote area and pronounced them dead, but were unable to recover their bodies, Swan said. A sheriff's mountain rescue team dispatched to Tahquitz Rock completed the operation at roughly 8 p.m., Swan said.

Escobar played for the Cowboys for four seasons beginning in 2013. His final season in the NFL, with the Baltimore Ravens, was in 2017.

In a tweet Thursday, the Cowboys posted a photo of Escobar and said: "Forever in our hearts."

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