Alaska musher and reality star Jessie Holmes injured while cleaning up storm damage

A dog team on a snowy day
Jessie Holmes races into Unalakleet on Sunday, March 13, 2022. (Lex Treinen/Alaska Public Media)

A reality television star and Iditarod musher was injured this week while helping clean up storm damage along Alaska’s western coast.

Jessie Holmes, who since 2015 has starred in “Life Below Zero,” a show about life in rural Alaska produced by National Geographic TV, was injured by falling debris in a building in the community of Golovin on Wednesday, the Anchorage Daily News reported. He was flown for treatment to Nome and then sent on to an Anchorage hospital.

Holmes was treated and released, Providence Alaska Medical Center spokesperson Mikal Canfield said in an email Friday to The Associated Press.

Holmes lives in the remote Brushkana area of Alaska, located off the Denali Highway, about 150 miles northeast of Anchorage.

“I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know how much I appreciate all the love, support, and prayers,” Holmes wrote in a post on is kennel’s Facebook page Thursday. “I’m blessed to be surrounded by such great people and lucky to still be here. My main goal now is to focus on my recovery and get back to my kennel.”

Attempts by The Associated Press to reach Holmes on Friday were not immediately successful. National Geographic also didn’t return messages.

Parts of Alaska’s Bering Sea coast was left with severe damage beginning Sept. 16 when the remnants of Typhoon Merbok traveled north through the Bering Strait.

Golovin, a tiny Norton Sound community, was among the hardest hit. A damage assessment indicated 22 of the 64 homes in town were badly damaged. Of those, seven are probably not salvageable.

Holmes had reached out to defending Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race champion Brent Sass and two other mushers, Jeff Deeter and Richie Beattie, to travel to Golovin to volunteer in the clean-up effort, Sass told the Anchorage newspaper.

On Wednesday, they were pulling water-logged plywood and insulation to help them dry out, Sass said. They were standing underneath the plywood when Holmes pulled down a board, and the entire area collapsed on top of them.

Holmes, who finished third in this year’s Iditarod, was trapped underneath the pile of plywood, insulation and other building materials.

Sass and Beattie scrambled to get the material off Holmes and pulled him out.

“It was really dire — it was the three longest minutes of my life trying to get him out,” Sass said.

An online fundraising effort for Holmes was started by a Golovin resident. The page description said Holmes had internal injuries, a broken wrist and broken ribs.

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