3 dogs owned by Iditarod musher killed in Denali Highway snowmachine crash

Iditarod musher Jim Lanier at the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race ceremonial start in Anchorage Saturday, March 7, 2020. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

There has been another deadly accident involving a dog team and snowmachine on the Denali Highway. Three sled dogs died from injuries sustained in the collision about two miles east of Cantwell Monday.

Musher Mike Parker says he was running a team back to Cantwell on Monday, after competing in a weekend race, when the crash occurred.

Parker declined an interview request but in a written statement said the team, which belongs to longtime Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race musher Jim Lanier, was struck head-on by the first snowmachine in a group that had passed them several times over the weekend.

He said two lead dogs and two swing dogs were hit, and that one dog was killed on impact and a second died shortly after.

Another musher helped Parker transport the dogs back to his truck, where he said a third dog died on the way to a vet clinic in Wasilla.

The fourth dog survived and is being treated for a fractured femur and other injuries.

Parker calls what happened an unspeakable tragedy.

“Words cannot describe how important and meaningful these animals are to me and the Laniers,” he said in the statement.

Alaska State Troopers said in an online dispatch that the snowmachine driver stopped to render aid and has been contacted by troopers. They said alcohol does not appear to have been a factor. No arrests have been made or citations issued, but trooper said the incident is still under investigation.

The crash follows a similar one on the Denali Highway that killed two dogs and injured seven others Nov. 17 in a team belonging to five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. Seavey said on social media that three of the dogs’ injuries were serious, and that they had been in one of three teams driven by himself and two handlers at the time of the crash.

Troopers said the snowmachiner who struck Seavey’s dogs, 28-year-old Austin Gibbs of Healy, was cited for negligent driving in that collision.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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