Alaska snowmobiler says he was drinking before crash that killed dog in Iditarod sled race

A snowmobile driver accused of colliding with two teams of mushers in the dog-sled race in over the weekend has apologized, saying that he had been drinking before the episode.

Alaska State Troopers arrested Arnold Demoski, 26, and charged him with assault, endangerment, reckless driving and criminal mischief for driving early Saturday morning into the teams of two racers, Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King. One of King’s dogs was killed in the crash, and two others were wounded but were expected to survive.

Maren Johnson / Husky Homestead via APMaren Johnson / Husky Homestead via APThis undated photo provided by Husky Homestead shows Nash, a dog that was killed when a man drove a snowmobile into teams of two mushers

Demoski, who became emotional as he apologized in an interview, described the crash as an accident.

“I shouldn’t have been driving last night,” he said in an interview with KTUU, an NBC affiliate. “It wasn’t intentional, though.”

Zirkle’s sled was struck by the snowmobile around 2:45 a.m. as she headed to one of the race’s checkpoints in a remote part of Alaska. The collision bruised one of her dogs, the police said. They said that King’s team, which was behind Zirkle’s, was struck about 12 miles outside of Nulato, a community of a couple hundred residents on the Yukon River. It has no road access but serves as one of the race’s checkpoints.

The snowmobile “went by me at extremely high speed, within inches of my body and sled, and clipped several dogs,” King said in an interview with The Alaska Dispatch News. “He didn’t turn around. He didn’t slow down. He was just gone.”

King, a four-time champion of the race, said the crash felt like “an intentional act of reckless bravado.” Race organizers said the teams had been hit on purpose.

“Based upon the firsthand accounts provided by both Aliy and Jeff, we have no reason to believe these were not intentional acts,” Stan Hooley, chief executive of the Iditarod Trail Committee, said in a statement Sunday.

About Eli Rosenberg, The New York Times