After rolling their truck with 20 Iditarod sled dogs off Oilwell Road on Tuesday afternoon, two Kenai Peninsula mushers are lucky to be alive.
“We rolled about 10 times,” said Jason Mackey, 34, of Kasilof, while he was en route to Central Peninsula General Hospital to be X-rayed for possible broken ribs.
Mackey had been riding in a Dodge Ram truck being driven by Bruce Linton when the truck left the road at Deadman’s Corner, approximately Mile 11 of Oilwell Road outside Ninilchik.
Linton was not injured. Both men were wearing seat belts.
“Bruce just moved up from Vermont last year, and he wasn’t too experienced with that curve,” Mackey said.
“We just went right over the cliff and rolled down to the bottom. We’re lucky to be alive,” he said.
The men were taking eight of Linton’s dogs and 12 dogs Mackey is training for Iditarod musher Shane Goosen to train in the Caribou Hills when the accident occurred at about noon.
Fellow musher Paul Gebhardt, of Kasilof, who also was taking his dogs out for training, was about 10 minutes ahead of Linton and Mackey, driving his truck with Mackey’s 13-year-old son, Patrick.
The mushers were able to contact each other by cell phone, and Gebhardt returned to help the men and cut the dogs out of the dog box on the back of Linton’s truck using a small chain saw.
“The box was breaking up as we were rolling down, and some of the dogs got out,” Mackey said.
Gebhardt also called 911 and paramedics from Ninilchik Emergency Services responded.
“They checked me out and said I might have broken some ribs,” Mackey said. “They wanted to take me to the hospital in the ambulance, but I said I’d rather go with Paul.”
About two hours after the accident, Mackey said 17 of the dogs had been rounded up with no apparent injuries. Three of the dogs were still running loose.
Mackey, who is the brother of Yukon Quest champion musher Lance Mackey, said Oilwell Road, which is a dirt road at Mile 11, was icy and covered with a light skiff of new snow at the time of the accident.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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