Update: hear our interview Saturday morning, above, with Jeff King in Nulato.
Breaking: Overnight, while on their way towards the Nulato checkpoint, the sled dog teams of Aliy Zirkle and Jeff King collided with a snowmachiner. Repeated, seemingly intentional collisions killed one sled dog from the team of Jeff King, a three-year-old male, Nash; three additional sled dogs (one from Zirkle’s team, two from King’s) received non-life-threatening injuries.
The full press release from the Iditarod Trail Committee (issued Saturday morning, March 12) follows below:
Early this morning, as Aliy Zirkle (bib #13) was making her way towards the Nulato checkpoint, a snowachiner repeatedly attempted to harm her and her team. One dog received a non-life threatening injury.
Upon arrival at the Nulato checkpoint, Zirkle reported the incident to race officials and a report was filed with the Alaska State Troopers. Contact was also made with the village police officer in Nulato.
Jeff King (bib #61), who was behind Zirkle, experienced a similar incident 12-miles prior to his arrival at the Nulato checkpoint. This incident resulted in the death of Nash, a three- year-old male. In addition, Crosby, a three-year-old male, and Banjo, a two-year-old male, received non-life threatening injuries. King requested and received medical attention at the checkpoint.
The suspect has been identified by the village police officer in Nulato, and authorities are conducting an investigation.
Regrettably, this incident very much alters the race of the two mushers competing for a win; however, both are going to continue on their way toward Nome.
Emily Schwing contributed to this story.