Former Aztecs tight end Gavin Escobar dies in rock climbing accident

Gavin Escobar, a notable tight end from San Diego State who played 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 arrived just after noon Wednesday of two injured climbers in the Tahquitz Rock area of ​​the San Bernardino National Forest. They were in an inaccessible area which required firefighters to walk to the location of the victims. Both people were dead when firefighters arrived.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Coroner’s Office identified the victims as Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh, 33. Both were residents of Huntington Beach.

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

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Gavin’s family,” said SDSU head coach Brady Hoke, who coached Escobar in 2009-10 during Hoke’s first tour as head coach. “I know his wife, Sarah, and his daughters, Josey and Charlotte, meant everything to him. Gavin was a great man, father, son and teammate and will be deeply missed by all.

Said John David Wicker, SDSU Athletic Director: “We are devastated to learn of the passing of Gavin Escobar. Gavin was the epitome of a student-athlete and a leader on and off the court. Our thoughts and prayers are with Gavin’s family during this incredibly difficult time. »

Escobar came to SDSU from Rancho Santa Margarita, becoming a standout tight end for the Aztecs from 2009-2012. He played 39 games for the Aztecs, hauling in 122 catches for 1,646 yards and 17 touchdowns.

SDSU special teams coordinator Doug Deakin was a teammate of Escobar, nicknamed Pablo, during the 2009-10 seasons. Deakin called him “the ultimate teammate and friend anyone could rely on”.

“(A) calm, cool outward demeanor, but a fierce competitor between the lines who you knew would do whatever it took to win and went out and proved it,” Deakin said. “Some of the best hands I’ve ever seen; anything near his vicinity was caught, effortlessly. (So) so I always greeted him saying, ‘Pablo! Hold my baby!” because you have entrusted your world in his hands.

Escobar was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, playing there four years 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 ended his professional career in 2019 with the San Diego Fleet in the Alliance of American Football before embarking on a career as a firefighter.

Long Beach Fire tweeted: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the death off duty of Long Beach Firefighter Gavin Escobar. Hired on February 5, 2022, Firefighter Escobar was assigned to Station 3 on Team B . »

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

Virginia F. Goins