Known as Alaska’s “Last Great Race,” struck the 2016 Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Early Saturday morning, Arnold Demoski was traveling home on his snowmobile after a night of drinking when he ran down two dog teams.
Demoski of Nulato, Alaska has been arrested by Alaska State Troopers for killing two dogs and seriously injuring two others. He is being charged with assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving, and criminal mischief.
Demoski doesn’t remember hitting the teams
Dog sled teams led by mushers Jeff King of Denali Park and Aliy Zirkle of Fairbanks were struck by Demoski along a remote section of the Yukon River. Both were quite shaken up over the events and believe Demoski deliberately tried to hit them.
While dog deaths have occurred in past Iditarod races due to accidents with snowmobiles, this is the first one ever that appeared to be intentional. Some local residents think the drunk snowmachiner was probably just trying to scare the mushers and inadvertently hit them.
Demoski, who has a long history of assault, said he never meant to harm anyone.
“It not was intentional,” he said. “That's not me. I don't do stuff like that.”
According to his statements to the media, Demoski claims he was so intoxicated that he does not remember hitting the dog teams and only realized it after waking up later on to find his snowmobile damaged. He had also heard reports of the teams being run down.
Two Iditarod dog teams devastated
Four-time Iditarod Champ Jeff King firmly believes the attack was deliberate and estimates the snowmobile was traveling about 80 mph when it struck the front of his dog sled. As the team’s sled is well lit and easily visible, there is no reason a snowmobile driver would fail to see it.
Nash, one of King’s dogs, was tragically killed in the incident. King found a broken piece of the snowmobile and brought it into the Nulato checkpoint. The piece was later matched with Demoski’s machine.
Aliy Zirkle, a three-time Iditarod runner-up, feels the same as King and believes she was assaulted on purpose. She stated to local media that it was obvious the snowmobile driver wanted to kill her.
Investigators said that Zirkle’s dog sled team was on the way to Nulato when it was first approached by the drunk Demoski. The snowmachiner hit the side of the sled, turned around several times and came back at the team, then finally drove off. According to state troopers, the machine came back again later, the driver revved the engine and left again. Shortly thereafter, Demoski returned once more and struck King’s team from behind. One dog was killed and five others injured.
“We are disturbed and saddened that celebrated Iditarod veteran dog teams led by Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle were struck by a resident of our village,” the Nulato Tribal Council said in a written statement.