Firefighter Rock Climber
Gavin Escobar. Photo credit: @LBFD via Twitter

Authorities identified a pair of climbers who died trying to scale a mountainside east of Idyllwild Thursday – one of whom is a firefighter who played football at San Diego State.

Gavin Escobar, 31, and Chelsea Walsh, 33, both of Huntington Beach, died about 12:20 p.m. Wednesday southeast of Humber Park, within the San Bernardino National Forest, according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.

Escobar, an off-duty Long Beach city firefighter, joined the agency in February, according to a department Facebook post.

Escobar was also a former professional football tight end who spent four years with the Dallas Cowboys and also had stints with teams including the Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins.

Escobar left San Diego State early, declaring for the 2013 NFL draft, according to Mountain West Connection. He had 93 receptions and 13 touchdowns in his last two years as an Aztec, the report said.

The alum has a brief bio on the SDSU athletics site. He is survived by his wife and two young children, according to the Long Beach Fire Department.

Officials indicated that the victims died while climbing a “rock face,” but no other details were available.

It was unknown whether they were seasoned or amateur climbers.

Two witnesses spotted the victims and called 911, despite poor mobile phone reception in the remote area.

According to the Riverside County Fire Department, multiple engine crews and a sheriff’s helicopter crew mounted a search-and-rescue operation.

Firefighters hiked a steep trail and reached the area where the victims were spotted by 1:20 p.m. Escobar and Walsh were pronounced dead at the scene.

The matter was turned over to sheriff’s deputies following the discovery. The investigation is ongoing.

– Staff and wire reports





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Ellen Bullock