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Aaron Alford, an assistant coach with the University of Utah football program from 2007-2010, died of an apparent heart attack Monday morning in Park City. He was 39.
New Beginnings Behavioral Treatment Agency, where Alford worked as an executive director, confirmed his death. Park City Police Department Capt. Phil Kirk said the department responded to a medical assist at the Park City School District offices about 10 a.m.
Kirk said there was nothing suspicious about the call, adding it looked like a district employee with some medical issues.Alford, who was heading into the season as an assistant head football coach with the Park City High School football program, also recently was hired as the school's new athletic director.
"We're pretty much in shock," Park City football coach Mike Shepherd said. "Aaron was healthy, in his late 30s, coached defensive backs at the University of Utah. … We're reeling right now."
Shepherd said the district is in the process of getting counselors for his players.
"We're literally in disbelief over this happening," he said. "I've never been through something like this. We're just trying to figure out how to deal with it."
During his first four years coaching at Utah, Alford coached running backs and defensive backs for the Utes. He coached current NFL cornerbacks Sean Smith (Kansas City), Brice McCain (Houston) and RJ Stanford (Miami).
"We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Aaron Alford," said Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham. He was a valued member of our staff during his time here at Utah and he will be missed by all. Our sympathy and prayers go out to his family."
A Colorado State University graduate and former defensive back for the Rams, Alford coached at Southern Utah (1999-2000), Western Illinois (2001), Wyoming (2002) and Akron (2004-06) before coming to Utah.
Reporter Aaron Falk contributed to this story.