Iditarod Musher Hospitalized After Vehicle Strikes Dog Team

On Tuesday, Iditarod musher Karin Hendrickson was injured when a Talkeetna woman lost control of her vehicle and struck the ATV that Hendrickson’s dog team was pulling.

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Alaska State Troopers received a call just before 7:30 Tuesday evening that a vehicle had struck the ATV ridden by musher Karin Hendrickson near Mile 91 of the Parks Highway. Troopers say that Mabel Quilliam of Talkeetna was driving northbound on the highway when her vehicle left the road and collided with Hendrickson’s ATV.

Karin Hendrickson leaving Willow during the 2013 Iditarod. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN - Anchorage)
Karin Hendrickson leaving Willow during the 2013 Iditarod. (Photo by Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage)

Hendrickson was being pulled by her sled dog team on a training run. Quilliam was not reported as being injured. Hendrickson was taken from the scene by Talkeetna EMS and eventually to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage. Maliko Ubl is Hendrickson’s handler. She says she spoke with Hendrickson on Wednesday about her injuries.

“I talked to her this morning. She sounds pretty good, but it sounds like she–something in her back is broken…and she also has a broken leg,” she said.

Shortly after the accident, word spread quickly on social media. The dog team got loose as a result of the collision, and Maliko Ubl says the Willow mushing community was quick to assist in rounding them up again.

“The mushing community really rallied around us and came out and helped. There were several people out with trucks and trailers, and the last dog finally showed up here, on her own, at about 6:00 this morning. She looks like she’s in really good shape.”

Maliko Ubl says that only two of the dogs showed any signs of injury.

“One dog, Spartan, had a pretty good laceration on his foot. And the, Fly, who has actually been Karin’s main leader up until this year…he looked like maybe he got wrapped up and drug a little bit, but no broken bones or anything like that – just some bruising and abrasions,” Ubl said.

The team has been checked by a veterinarian, and Maliko Ubl says they will likely get at least a few days of rest.

Early in her mushing career, Karin Hendrickson worked as a handler for Mat-Su Borough Assembly Member Vern Halter. Halter says he wishes Hendrickson well, and that the accident was a result of unfortunate timing.

“Karin is just exceptional. She works in Anchorage, full time job. She probably commuted home last night, got home 6:30 or 7:00…You can imagine, fifteen seconds either side of this,” Halter said.

The severity of Hendrickson’s broken bones is not publicly known. She is listed in “fair” condition by Providence Alaska Medical Center. Hendrickson is signed up for the 2015 Iditarod, and has run the race six times in the past. It’s not known yet whether her injuries will keep her from her seventh attempt next March.