The San Diego Union-Tribune
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,” 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 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.”
SDSU special teams coordinator Doug Deakin was a teammate of Escobar, who was nicknamed Pablo, during the 2009-10 seasons. Deakin called him “the ultimate teammate and friend that everyone could count on.”
“(A) calm, cool outward demeanor, but a fierce competitor in-between the lines that 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 remotely close to his vicinity was caught, effortlessly. (So much) so I would always greet him by saying. ‘Pablo! Hold my baby!’ because you trusted your world in his hands.”
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.
©2022 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.