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Former NFL player-turned-firefighter, 1 more found dead after rock climbing

The bodies of Gavin Escobar and fellow rock climber Chelsea Walsh were found Wednesday at Tahquitz Rock near Idyllwild


Gavin Escobar, a Miami Dolphins tight end at the time, walked off the field at the NFL team’s training camp on July 26, 2018, in Davie, Fla. Two rock climbers, including the former NFL player who became a firefighter, were found dead dear a Southern California peak after rescue crews responded to reports of injuries, authorities said Wednesday.

File photo/Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

The Associated Press

IDYLLWILD, Calif. — Two rock climbers, including a firefighter and former NFL player, were found dead near a Southern California peak after rescue crews responded to reports of injuries, authorities said.

The climbers were identified Thursday as Chelsea Walsh, 33, and Gavin Escobar, 31.

Rescuers were called around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to Tahquitz Rock near Idyllwild following a distress call, the CAL FIRE/Riverside County Fire Department said on Twitter.

A team managed to climb into the steep, remote area and found both climbers dead at the scene, the department said.

A small amount of rain fell in the area earlier in the day, but officials didn’t immediately say if the weather was a factor in the deaths.

Escobar had been a tight end for NFL teams, including the Dallas Cowboys in a backup role from 2013 to 2016. He then had brief stints with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, ending his football career in 2019 with the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.

Escobar was hired in February as a Long Beach firefighter, the department said.

Tahquitz Rock, with its steep granite cliffs, is a popular destination for climbers.

Two climbers from Los Angeles fell 200 feet (60 meters) to their deaths on the rock in 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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