Former NFL player Gavin Escobar one of two rock climbers found dead in Southern California

IDYLLWILD, Calif. -- Two rock climbers, including former NFL player Gavin Escobar, were found dead near a Southern California peak after rescue crews responded to reports of injuries, authorities said.

Rescuers were called around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday to Tahquitz Rock near Idyllwild following a distress call, the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department said on Twitter.

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

They were identified Thursday as Chelsea Walsh, 33, and Escobar, 31.

A small amount of rain fell in the area earlier in the day, but officials didn't immediately say if weather was a factor in the deaths.

Escobar was a Long Beach firefighter who was hired in February, the department said.

Escobar, a 2013 second-round pick out of San Diego State, previously had been a tight end, playing for the Dallas Cowboys in a backup role from 2013 to 2016. He then had brief stints with the Kansas City Chiefs, Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins, ending his football career in 2019 with the now-defunct Alliance of American Football. In his NFL career, Escobar played in 64 games, with seven starts, 30 receptions for 333 yards and eight touchdowns.

Tahquitz Rock, with its steep granite cliffs, is a popular destination for climbers.

Two climbers from Los Angeles fell 200 feet (60 meters) to their deaths on the rock in 2000, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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