A 23-year-old Nulato man was arrested, charged, and appeared in court on charges of Assault III x2, Reckless Endangerment, and Reckless Driving x2 in connection with the bizarre case of snow-machine versus dog sled attack that took place early on Saturday morning.
Galena-based Alaska State Troopers received a report of the encounters, by veteran Iditarod sledders Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King with a snow machine that crashed into both racers, at 2:43 am on Saturday morning. In the initial incident, Zirkle’s sled was hit on the side, the collision flipped two dogs, one of whom suffered bruising, about five miles below the Koyukuk River by a snowmobile traveling approximately 40 miles-per-hour. She reported that the driver “turned around multiple times and came back at her before driving off.” Then, about an hour later, 12 miles above Nulato, Zirkle would encounter the snowmobile driver again, she reported that “The snow machine revved up and was pointed at her and then finally left the area.”
Musher Jeff King would have a run-in with the same driver near the same location. Troopers reported that “Jeff King, was hit from behind by what appears to be the same snow machine approximately 12 miles above Nulato.” It was estimated that the machine was traveling close to one hundred miles per hour. In that collision, one of King’s dogs, three-year-old “Nash” was killed by the snow-machiner. Another five of his dogs were injured. Without stopping the driver then headed downriver towards Nulato.[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]
26-year-old Nulato man, Arnold Demoski, the man identified as the driver of the machine, said that when he woke up on Saturday morning, he heard the news of the incident, and went out to check his machine. He found part of his cowling missing and rust-colored stains on the front of the machine and immediately realized that he had been the person who wreaked havoc on the sledders. He contacted the village’s VPSO and confessed to the collisions.
Troopers would later match up the evidence found at the scene, that included the missing portion of Demoski’s cowling, to that of Demoski’s snowmobile.
Demoski, who worked as the Natural Resources Director for the village tribal council, stated that he had “blacked out” after drinking, and had been on his way home from partying in Koyukuk. He said that he didn’t remember the collisions.
In a statement, the Nulato Tribal Council said, “We are disturbed and saddened that celebrated Iditarod veteran dog teams lead by Jeff King and Aliy Zirkle were struck by a resident of our village. Nulato recognizes the complex behavioral health issues that impact our village and we ask for prayers as we seek wellness for all.”
Iditarod race officials say that despite the incident, both Zirkle and King are continuing in the race to Nome.
Demoski appeared in court on the charges and his bail was set at $50,000.[xyz-ihs snippet=”Adversal-468×60″]