SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s state parks director has died unexpectedly.

The Department of Natural Resources says Division of Parks and Recreation Director Fred Hayes died Friday at age 58.

The department says Hayes’ body was found in his Heber City home and that cause of death is unknown.

Department spokesman Nathan Schwebach says Hayes was alone when he died and that police believe Hayes probably died of natural causes.

Hayes became director in 2012 after starting with the parks system in 1982 as a seasonal ranger and then rising through the ranks. He previously worked as a teacher.

Gov. Gary Herbert said Hayes had “a unique ability to connect with people” and that his provided “leadership, forward thinking and calming influence.”

Hayes is survived by his wife Serena and their five children.

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