A man allegedly drove a snowmobile into two teams competing in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, killing one dog and injuring at least three others, officials have claimed
The snowmobiler crashed into both Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King’s dog teams early Saturday morning outside the Alaskan village of Nulato, according to the Associated Press.
Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters told the AP that after the snowmobile hit Zirkle’s sled, the driver reportedly turned around several more times and continued to attack the team before finally driving away, leaving one of her dogs bruised.
King was struck from behind by the snowmobile, the AP reports. Three of his dogs were hit: One 3-year-old male, Nash, died and two other males, Banjo and Crosby, were injured but are expected to survive.
Neither Zirkle nor King were injured.
According to a statement from the Iditarod Trail Committee obtained by Western Alaska radio station KNOM, the suspected snowmobile driver “has been identified by the village police officer in Nulato, and authorities are conducting an investigation.”
The Alaska Dispatch News reports that 26-year-old Nulato resident Arnold Demoski confessed to striking the dog teams with his snowmobile after drinking a large amount of hard liquor and blacking out Friday night.
He was reportedly arrested Saturday afternoon and was being held in custody at his parents’ home. Alaska State Trooper Robert Nunley told the ADN that Demoski is currently charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of fifth-degree criminal mischief, and more charges may come. It is unclear if he has entered a plea.
“I don’t care if people know if I was drinking and driving,” he said. “I’m really glad [Zirkle and King] are okay and I really feel sorry for Nash.”
Demoski continued: “As soon as I woke up this morning I heard about what happened. I went to check my Sno-Go. The front panel was missing. I knew it was me right off bat. I called [the village public safety officer] right off, told him it was me. I told him I’d do whatever they want me to do. I’ll tell the troopers whatever they want to know. I feel really bad for what I did.”
He added, “I hope they can forgive me. I want this community to forgive me and I want my employers to forgive me, and hopefully I can get over this alcohol problem.”
The Iditarod Trail Committee release also noted that although the attacks set both Zirkle and King back in the more than 1,000-mile race from Anchorage to Nome, they both plan to proceed with the competition.