Former NFL player and woman killed while climbing in California

Two climbers, including a former NFL player, were found dead near a Southern California peak after rescue teams 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 at Tahquitz Rock near Idyllwild following a distress call, the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department said on Twitter.

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

A small amount of rain fell in the area earlier in the day, but officials did not immediately say whether the weather was a factor in the deaths. Authorities don’t know if the two were novice or experienced climbers, CBS Los Angeles reported.

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

The Cowboys paid tribute to Escobar Thursday night with a tweet, saying: “Always in our hearts.”

Escobar was hired in February as a Long Beach firefighter, the department said in a tweet announcing his death.

Tahquitz Rock, with its steep granite cliffs, is a popular destination for rock climbers. A climber was killed there in 2014 after an accident left him hanging from a rope, CBS Los Angeles reported. According to the Los Angeles Times, two climbers in Los Angeles fell dead from 200 feet onto the rock in 2000.

First published on September 30, 2022 / 06:40

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Virginia F. Goins