Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

26-Year-Old Man Arrested in Connection with Iditarod Crashes

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

26-Year-Old Man Arrested in Connection with Iditarod Crashes

Article excerpt

ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A man suspected of intentionally driving a snowmobile into teams of two mushers near the front of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race has been arrested in a Yukon River village. Arnold Demoski, 26, of Nulato, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of assault, reckless endangerment, reckless driving and six counts of criminal mischief.

Demoski spoke to KTUU-TV, saying he was returning home from a night of drinking when he struck Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King's teams early Saturday morning.

The crashes killed one of King's dogs and injured at least two others. One of Zirkle's dogs also was injured. Iditarod officials at first reported King had been injured. But the four-time champion said later the snowmobile had missed both him and his sled.

Demoski said when he woke up Saturday morning and heard what had happened to the mushers, he checked his snowmobile and realized he had done it. The snowmobile was missing a part and had rust-colored stains, he said.

Demoski said he doesn't remember the collisions, which the Iditarod described as apparently intentional attacks.

"I just want to say I'm sorry, he said.

Zirkle, 46, who finished second three times from 2012 to 2014, was mushing from Kokukuk to Nulato, a run of less than 20 miles (32.19 kilometers) on the Yukon River, when she was hit, race marshal Mark Nordman said Saturday.

The snowmobile hit the side of Zirkle's sled about 5 miles (8.05 kilometers) outside of Koyukuk, turned around multiple times and came back at her before driving off, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said by email.

The snowmobile reappeared 12 miles (19.31 kilometers) outside of Nulato. The driver revved up and was pointed at Zirkle before leaving, Peters said.

Demoski told KTUU that he did not return to harass Zirkle. He said he wanted to check to make sure she was OK.

One dog on Zirkle's team was bruised. …

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