Snowmobile Attack At Iditarod That Killed Sled Dog Leads To Arrest

Toni Matthews

However, this year's event became dangerous for entirely unexpected reasons. According to the Los Angeles Times, a man targeted two different sled teams as they made their way "along a remote section of the Yukon River." The individual allegedly plowed his snowmobile into the dog teams. It was described as an intentional attack.

"Alaska State Troopers said Saturday they had caught the snowmobiler responsible. They charged 26-year-old Arnold Demoski of Nulato, a community of about 350 people, with assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and criminal mischief after the incidents that left mushers Jeff King of Denali Park and Aliy Zirkle of Fairbanks badly shaken."

Now in custody, 26-year-old Arnold Demoski told the Alaskan-Dispatch News that he didn't recall plowing into anyone with his snowmobile. Demoski said that he was "black out drunk" the night he collided with both Aliy and Jeff, and that the incidents were unintentional rather than malicious.

"I don't care if people know if I was drinking and driving. I'm really glad [Zirkle] and [King] are OK, and I really feel sorry for Nash."

Local police linked the man to the alleged snowmobile attacks because a cowling flew off the machine during a collision with Jeff King's team. Jeff later said he estimated the snowmobiler was driving 80 mph. The Los Angeles Times reports that King recovered the snowmobile's cowling and "brought it into the Nulato checkpoint." Authorities matched the item to Arnold Demoski's machine, and he was then taken into custody.

The Nulato Tribal Council released a statement about the Iditarod snowmobile collisons, saying the tribe was "disturbed and saddened" by the incident. "Nulato recognizes the complex behavioral health issues that impact our village, and we ask for prayers as we seek wellness for all."

King responded to the tribe's statement, saying he felt "very sorry for the village and for the person involved" because of the "social problems" likely involved.

"Is it possible this will shed light to some that will change behavior in the future? You can only hope."

UPDATE: The reported Iditarod snowmobile collisions led to the death of one dog; others were injured. The title has been updated to reflect this news.

[AP Photo/Michael Dinneen]