A drunk driver slammed into a team at the Iditarod as it neared the finish line killing one of the mushers and injuring other dogs.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A man has been taken into custody after driving his snowmobile into two dog teams competing in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Saturday morning, killing one dog and injuring at least three others.
Mushers Aliy Zirkle and four-time champion Jeff King said they were attacked outside the village of Nulato, a community of 236 on the Yukon River, a little more than halfway into the 1,000-mile race to Nome.
The crashes killed one of King's dogs -- Nash -- and injured at least two others 12 miles outside of Nulato. One of Zirkle's dogs also was injured.
Alaska State Troopers say 26-year-old Arnold Demoski of Nulato is being held on two counts of assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of criminal mischief.
An apologetic Demoski told the Alaska Dispatch News that he had not intentionally driven into the dog teams, but he had blacked out while returning from drinking in another village.
Shop Dogs stand in solidarity with the Iditarod Mushers, the people of Alaska and everyone who is heartbroken by this tragedy. Please drink responsibly.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race is an annual long-distance sled dog race run in early March from Anchorage to Nome, which takes place entirely in theUS state of Alaska. Mushers and a team of 16 dogs, of which at least 6 must be on the towline at the finish line, cover the distance in 9–15 days or more.The Iditarod began in 1973 as an event to test the best sled dog mushers and teams but evolved into today's highly competitive race. The current fastest winning time record was set in 2014 by Dallas Seavey with a time of 8 days, 13 hours, 4 minutes, and 19 seconds. As of 2012, Dallas Seavey was also the youngest musher to win the race at the age of 25, while as of 2013, at the age of 53, Dallas' father Mitch Seavey was the oldest person to ever win the race.
Teams generally race through blizzards causing whiteout conditions, sub-zero temperatures and gale-force winds which can cause the wind chill to reach −100 °F (−73 °C). A ceremonial start occurs in the city of Anchorage and is followed by the official restart in Willow, a city 80 miles north of Anchorage. The restart was originally in Wasilla, but because of too little snow, the restart was permanently moved to Willow in 2008. The trail runs from Willow up the Rainy Pass of the Alaska Range into the sparsely populated interior, and then along the shore of the Bering Sea, finally reaching Nome in western Alaska. The trail is through a harsh landscape of tundra and spruce forests, over hills and mountain passes, and across rivers. While the start in Anchorage is in the middle of a large urban center, most of the route passes through widely separated towns and villages, and small Athabaskan and Iñupiat settlements. The Iditarod is regarded as a symbolic link to the early history of the state and is connected to many traditions commemorating the legacy of dog mushing.