An Alaska man accused of intentionally driving his snowmobile into two teams of mushers in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race appeared in court on Sunday via teleconference.
Magistrate Romano DiBenedetto set the bail at $50,000 for 26-year-old Arnold Demoski, who rammed into the dog sled teams of Aliy Zirkle and four-time Iditarod champion Jeff King early Saturday.
Demoski, now being held at the Fairbanks Correctional Center has been charged with two counts of felony third-degree assault, four counts of reckless endangerment and six counts of fifth-degree criminal mischief. He was going about 100 mph when he crashed into King’s team and about 40 mph when he struck Zirkle’s team according to the court documents.
According to race officials and state police, Zirkle was mushing from Koyukuk to Nulato, a run of less than 19 miles on the Yukon River, when the snowmobile hit the side of her sled about five miles outside of Koyukuk. The collision bruised one of her dogs, but the officials described the injury as non-life-threatening.
The snowmachiner reportedly made three separate attempts or passes at her including turning around several times before reappearing 12 miles outside of Nulato. The driver then revved up and was pointed at Zirkle before leaving.
Zirkle reached Nulato and told a race official the incident had left her shaken. “I’m really bad. Someone tried to kill me with a snowmachine,” she said on a video posted to the Iditarod Insider webpage.
King, who was behind Zirkle and fared much worse. About 12 miles out of Nulato, he was hit from behind and his three-year-old dog, Nash, was killed. Two other dogs, Banjo, 2, and Crosby, 3, were injured, according to race officials.
King told the Iditarod Insider the snowmobile narrowly missed him and his sled, but hit his dogs at high speed. The snowmobile ?went by me at extremely high speed, within inches of my body and sled, and clipped several dogs,? Mr. King said.
He added that the crash felt like ?an intentional act of reckless bravado.?
Demoski, however, said he doesn’t remember the collisions, which the Iditarod described as apparently intentional attacks. He spoke to KTUU-TV and said the crashes were not intentional as he was returning home from a night of drinking when he struck the teams.
?I don?t know how I can possibly make it right,? he told KTUU-TV, before he was taken into custody by Alaska State Troopers. ?I hope they can forgive me. I didn?t mean it.?