Former NFL player and documentary filmmaker killed in rock-climbing accident remembered

Two friends, a former NFL player-turned-Long Beach firefighter and a documentarian died tragically during a rock climbing accident last week. 

Former Dallas Cowboy tight end Gavin Escobar left the world of professional sports to become a firefighter, but he never lost his sense of adventure and need for physical exertion.  

Last Wednesday, the 31-year-old husband and father of two went out with a friend, identified as 33-year-old Chelsea Walsh from Huntington Beach, to scale Tahquitz Rock.  

“There have been witnesses that have claimed that they saw the two free fall with a large object,” Escobar’s friend, Jake Bernards told KTLA. “Conjecture that a rock might’ve fallen with them.”  

Bernards and Escobar were roommates and teammates at San Diego State University and remained close friends.  

“Absolute bright light in anyone’s life. You truly can’t be unhappy around him. We liked to joke he’s just a big goofball and an even better dad. He really focused all his efforts on those two girls. I think his legacy lies in every single person that he’s touched,” Bernards said.  

After playing for multiple NFL teams and retiring from football, the 31-year-old dedicated his life to public safety as a Long Beach firefighter.  

“It goes to show what kind of guy he was — very selfless,” Bernards said.  

Walsh’s father, Donovan Patrick Walsh, said the same about his daughter, a filmmaker, documentarian and humanitarian.  

She was a shining star with “Roadtrip Nation,” traveling the country in RVs and, according to the company’s social media, was “finding people who have careers they love and talking to them about how they got there.”  

“Driving a motorhome with four to five young people chosen as candidates, to take them around to different places to meet very influential people who had come from nothing and gone on to be something,” the 33-year-old’s father told KTLA.  

He said that rock climbing was a hobby for his daughter. She was adventurous, but added she wasn’t a thrill seeker. 

“You can’t be afraid of life. You’ve got to live it as best you can. Chelsea would say that and always has. Follow your dreams and your passions. Sometimes there’s a rift in the universe,” he said. 

Two GoFundMe campaigns have been started for the victims, one for Escobar and another for Walsh

Authorities are investigating the tragedy.  

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