Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race officials have confirmed that two sled teams were attacked by a person on a snowmobile today, killing one dog, injuring two others and causing four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King to request medical attention, according to the Associated Press.
The snowmobiler made repeated passes at both King and fellow racer Aliy Zirkle and "purposefully struck" them and their team of dogs near the village and checkpoint of Nulato. Nash, a 3-year-old male on King's team, was killed by the snowmobile. Crosby, another 3-year-old male, and Banjo, a 2-year-old male—both on Kings team as well—were injured but are expected to survive.
According to journalist Blair Braverman, Zirkle used a trail marker to ward off the attacker.
Braverman also reports that Zirkle has met the checkpoint and has already continued on with the race. A suspect has been identified by the police, but no gender, age, or name has been released. Check back for updates.
According to Associated Press, Police arrested 26-year-old Arnold Demoski, a natural resources coordinator for the Nulato tribal council, in connection with the incident. Demoski was charged with two counts of assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of fifth-degree criminal mischief. In an interview with Alaska Dispatch News, he also claims to have blacked out from drinking hard alcohol, and didn't stop at the moment, for fear of being caught for a DUI.
"I'm really glad (Zirkle) and (King) are OK and I really feel sorry for Nash," Demoski said.
"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."
King, who—contrary to earlier reports, did not request medical attention—said of the incident:
"It literally took as long as a snowmachine takes to go 80 mph the length of a dog team," King said. "It's a millisecond." Terrifying stuff—especially considering the incident took place around 2 or 3 a.m. Rest well, Nash. Good dog.