Snowmachiner who struck dog team on Denali Highway works for Polaris, troopers say

Jim Lanier handling his dogs at the Finger Lake checkpoint during the 2018 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, in his protective mountain biking gear. (Photo by Zachariah Hughes/ Alaska Public Media)

Alaska State Troopers say the driver of a snowmachine that hit a dog team on the Denali Highway Monday, killing three dogs, is a test rider for a major manufacturer.

Troopers said Wednesday that the Minnesota man was in the area doing testing for Polaris when he hit the dog team east of Cantwell. No humans were hurt, but in addition to the dead dogs a fourth dog suffered serious injuries.

The dogs were in a team owned by longtime Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race veteran Jim Lanier of Chugiak and being driven by Mike Parker, who works at Lanier’s Northern White’s Kennel.     

In an emailed statement, Polaris spokesperson Jess Rogers says the company wants to “express our deep sympathies to the family that lost three of their beloved sled dogs.”

Rogers added that safe riding is “central to how we operate, and we are fully cooperating with local law enforcement, as well as conducting our own internal investigation into the accident”.

Alaska State Troopers are still investigating the accident.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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