FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A musher from Salcha was reported in critical condition after his dog team ran into a low-hanging tree a half-mile from his home during a training run.
Bob Stroeker was found face down in the snow Thursday by a friend and dog handler who went out to look for him when he hadn't returned.
Medics from Salcha Rescue were called to the scene. They used snowmachines and a sled to transport Stroeker to an ambulance and then to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital where he underwent tests to determine the extent of his injuries.
Chief Rob Weathers from Salcha Rescue says Stroeker suffered internal injuries and possible spinal and head injuries.
Stroeker left on a four-mile training run just before noon Thursday with a team of eight dogs hitched to a sled when he evidently hit the tree, said Rosie Redding, Stroeker's handler.
When he didn't return, Redding and friend Bob Erickson went out to find him.
''When I yelled his name, he gave a little jerk,'' said Redding, adding that she believed Stroeker had been unconscious for about a half-hour before they found him.
Stroeker was not bleeding but he could not walk, Redding said.
''I just kept talking to him to keep him awake,'' she told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''Every now and then I'd get a chuckle out of him.''
The dog team continued a short way down the trail before becoming tangled and stopping. None of the dogs was injured in the accident, Erickson said.
Swiss musher Peter Zimmerman was seriously injured in a similar accident three years ago while training for the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory.
Zimmerman tied himself to his sled behind a 12-dog team and hit a stump in the trail while leaving his dog lot during a training run in December 1997.
The sled tipped and Zimmerman was dragged into a tree, breaking his neck.
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