A 26-year-old Alaska man claims he was drunk when he drove his snowmobile into two sled dog teams during the Iditarod race on Saturday, killing one dog and injuring several others, the Alaska Dispatch News reports.
Arnold Demoski, was arrested in Nulato, his hometown and the location of the incident, later Saturday, and charged with second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of fifth-degree criminal mischief, the Alaska State Police say.
Police said in a press release the incident was reported at about 2:40 a.m.
Aliy Zirkle, one of the race leaders, said her sled was hit in the side by a snowmobile, which then turned around multiple times and came back at her before driving off. She was not injured. One of her dogs was bruised.
Another musher, Jeff King, told police he was hit from behind by the same snowmobile about 12 miles away from Nulato. One of his dogs, Nash, was killed, and five others were injured. King was not hurt.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Demoski Apologized, Saying He Was Blackout Drunk & It Was Not an Intentional Attack
“I just want to say I’m sorry,” Demoski said to KTUU. He said Jeff King was his favorite musher growing up.
He said he did not remember the incident when he woke up Saturday morning. He said he was driving while in a drunken blackout.
“I hope they can forgive me,” he told the newspaper. “I want this community to forgive me and I want my employers to forgive me, and hopefully I can get over this alcohol problem.”
2. He Said In a Facebook Post He Is Not a Bad Person & Didn’t Want to Run From His Problems
Demoski also took to Facebook to address the incident, saying he is not a bad person and decided to turn himself in because he does not want to run from his problems.
You can read the full post below:
Demoski works as a natural resources coordinator for the Nutalo Tribal Council.
The tribal council said in a statement, “We are disturbed and saddened that celebrated Iditarod veteran dog teams lead by Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle were struck by a resident of our village. Nulato recognizes the complex behavioral health issues that impact our village and we ask for prayers as we seek wellness for all.”
3. King Says Demoski Didn’t Say a Word During the Incident & Sped Off After Hitting His Sled
He said the snowmobile driver did not say a word.
“He didn’t turn around,” King told the newspaper. “He didn’t slow down.”
Nash, a 3-year-old dog, died instantly, King said.
The newspaper also posted a video showing King singing to Nash when the dog was a puppy:
Another dog, Crosby, had a swollen and possibly broken leg, and a third, Banjo, was knocked unconscious. Two others also suffered injuries.
4. Zirkle Told Officials ‘Someone Tried to Kill Me With a Snowmachine’
Aliy Zirkle was shaken up when she entered the Nutalo checkpoint, a video posted by race officials shows.
“I’m really bad,” Zirkle told a race judge. “Someone tried to kill me with a snowmachine.”
Zirkle has not spoken about the incident.
5. King & Zirkle Are Both Continuing on in the Race, Officials Say
Despite the incident, both King and Zirkle are continuing on in the race, officials 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,” race organizers said in a press release.