Polaris and snowmachine rider who hit sled dog team charged with reckless driving

a sled dog team on a snowy road
A musher practices on the Denali Highway in 2019. (Joey Mendolia)

A charge has been filed in a case in which a snowmachine hit a dog team on the Denali Highway.

According to an Alaska State Trooper dispatch, 48-year-old Erik Johnson of Minnesota and Polaris Inc. have been charged with reckless driving for a Dec. 11 crash that killed three sled dogs and seriously injured another. Johnson was testing a machine for Polaris on the snow-covered Denali Highway east of Cantwell when he hit a dog team being driven by Mike Parker for Iditarod veteran Jim Lanier.

It was one of two accidents in a month in which snowmachines hit dog teams on the Denali Highway. On Nov. 17, a team being driven by a handler for five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey was hit, killing 2 dogs and injuring several others. The operator of the machine, 28-year-old Austin Gibbs of Healy, was cited for negligent driving.

Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.

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