A man on a snowmobile hit and killed a sled dog participating in the Iditarod.
Arnold Demoski, who was subsequently arrested, said he was driving “blackout drunk” when the accident occurred. “I don’t know how I can possibly make it right,” he said. “I hope they can forgive me. I didn’t mean it.” He was taken into custody by Alaska State Troopers on Saturday. As reported by USA Today, he faces two counts of third-degree assault, one count of reckless endangerment, one count of reckless driving and five counts of fifth-degree criminal mischief.
Near the town of Nulato, Demoski struck two teams of dogs led by Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle racing separately towards the village, according to race officials. Demoski, as reported by Alaska Dispatch News, said he was coming back home after drinking.
One of King’s dogs was killed and at least two others were injured in the accident. Also injured was one of Zirkle’s dogs. While officials initially said that King also sustained injuries, he later said that Demoski’s snowmobile had missed both him and his sled.
Upon waking up Saturday morning and hearing what had happened, Demoski checked his snowmobile – which he said was missing a part and had stains – and realized he had caused the accident.
In a statement, organizers of the Iditarod said, “Regrettably, this incident very much alters the race of the two mushers competing for a win; however, both are going to continue on their way toward Nome.”
CBS News reports that Zirkle was racing from Kokukuk to Nulato, a distance of less than 20 miles, when she was struck. “I’m really bad. Someone tried to kill me with a snowmachine,” she said. Between the years of 2012 and 2014, she has finished second thrice.
King, who has won the race four times, was hit when he and his team reached the vicinity 12 miles outside of Nutalo. Although the snowmobile missed him narrowly, he said it struck his dogs at high speed. “One of my dogs was killed pretty much on the spot, and a couple others I gave first aid to the best I could and loaded them into my sled,” he said. “I kind of felt like a triage ambulance.” He added that it did not seem like an accident, but like “an act of bravado.”