A Healy, Alaska man received a citation last week for negligent driving after his snow machine collided with a sled dog team, killing two dogs and severely injuring three more, on the Denali Highway, according to KTUU-TV. The fatal accident occurred on Nov. 17, 2023.
According to Alaska State Troopers, 28-year-old Austin Gibbs was driving one of four snow machines traveling together. Tim DeSpain, a Troopers spokesperson, mentioned in an email that although “the snow from the machine in front may have hindered vision,” there is not enough evidence at this point to prove that it obstructed Gibbs’ view at the time of the crash.
Famed musher mourns his furry companions’ deaths
The dogs were from five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey’s kennel. Seavey and two other mushers were on a training run when the collision occurred. In an emotional Facebook post, the grieving Seavey wrote, “It’s time to say good bye to Olaf and Oreo, the two dogs that didn’t make it through the snowmachine crash.”
He mentioned that “there is nothing harder for a musher to go through than to see the look of confusion, pain, and panic on the face of your friend when a tragedy like this happens.” He added that losing a young canine companion is quite “different from an old friend that is ready to move on.”
“When the old ones pass we are thankful for the years of shared challenges and experiences,” Seavey continued. “We understand that the very thing that makes life precious, the fact that it is not infinite but rather a vessel to be filled with years, has, at last, been fulfilled.”
He described Olaf as “enthusiastic to a fault,” and Oreo as a “happy and sweet” dog who’d “just begun to turn the corner from puppyish enthusiasm to capable and competent sled dog.”
The remaining injured dogs underwent surgeries and are currently in stable condition. One of them, Whooper, had his leg amputated and is “fighting his heart out.”