Longtime football coach Cliff Haskins dies in crash

Cliff Haskins guides the Oxon Hill offense during a scrimmage in 2000.
Cliff Haskins guides the Oxon Hill offense during a scrimmage in 2000. (Jonathan Newton - Washington Post)
By Josh Barr and Matt Zapotosky
Wednesday, August 18, 2010; 6:41 PM

Longtime Washington-area high school football coach Cliff Haskins died Tuesday night after suffering a heart attack and crashing his sport-utility vehicle into a guardrail in the Forest Heights area of Prince George's County. He was 59.

Haskins was driving north in the 5600 block of Indian Head Highway at about 10:15 p.m. when he had a medical emergency, said Cpl. Erica Johnson, a police spokeswoman. His vehicle crossed the median strip and hit several bushes, then veered into the southbound lanes and struck a guard rail, Johnson said.

C.H. Flowers High School football coach Mike Mayo, for whom Haskins worked as an assistant coach the past six years, said that he was told Haskins had a heart attack.

Johnson said investigators would need an autopsy to determine whether the medical emergency or the crash killed Haskins.

Prior to coaching at Flowers, Haskins had been the head coach at Oxon Hill High for 14 seasons, from 1989 to 2002, guiding the Clippers to a 75-72 record with five playoff appearances.

Although Haskins was known for being gruff with outsiders, Mayo said that beneath his tough exterior, Haskins was a calm, easy-going person.

"We talked a lot of trash," Mayo said. "He had some good teams."

Mayo said he learned of the accident from an administrator during Tuesday morning's practice, which was held in the Springdale school's gymnasium because of the rain.

"It was just shocking," Mayo said, adding that did not believe Haskins had any health issues. "We were sitting there and they called me down out of the bleachers, because I was up top watching. I thought they were going to tell me something about a kid getting in trouble."

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