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Former Aztecs tight end Gavin Escobar dies in rock climbing accident

San Diego Union Tribune logo San Diego Union Tribune 9/30/2022 Kirk Kenney

Gavin Escobar, a standout tight end at San Diego State who went on to play six seasons in the NFL, was killed Wednesday in a rock climbing accident near Idyllwild, according to the Riverside County sheriff's office.

According to Cal Fire, a report came in just after noon on Wednesday of two injured rock climbers in Tahquitz Rock area of the San Bernardino National Forest. They were in an inaccessible area that required firefighters to hike to the victims' location. Both people were dead when firefighters arrived.

The Riverside County sheriff coroner's office identified the victims as Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh, 33. Both were Huntington Beach residents.

The SDSU football team learned of Escobar's death Thursday evening, upon landing in Boise, Idaho, for Friday night's game against Boise State.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gavin's family," SDSU head coach Brady Hoke said. "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."

Said John David Wicker, SDSU's director of athletics: "We are devastated to hear about the passing of Gavin Escobar. Gavin was the epitome of a student-athlete, and a leader on and off the field. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gavin's family in this incredibly difficult time."

Escobar came to SDSU from Rancho Santa Margarita, emerging as a standout tight end for the Aztecs from 2009-12. He played in 39 games for the Aztecs, making 122 catches for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Escobar was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, playing four years there before spending time with four other teams over the next two seasons. He had 30 receptions for 333 yards and eight touchdowns during his career.

Escobar completed his professional career in 2019 with the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football before moving on to a career as a firefighter.

Long Beach Fire tweeted: "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."

Escobar is survived by his wife and two children, according to Long Beach Fire.

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune.

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