UPSDA responds to UP200 accident

The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association issued the following statement Sunday evening in regard to the incident in which a sled dog was killed and two others injured during the U.P. 200 early Sunday:

“Unfortunate circumstances early Sunday morning during the UP200 sled dog race resulted in an accident between a dog team and a motor vehicle.

Shortly after 5:30 a.m. musher Frank Moe was attempting to cross Michigan highway 28 near the Wetmore checkpoint. Moe was running with a team of twelve, freshly rested dogs and was unable to stop his dogs when he saw approaching traffic.

This is the first time in the UP200 Sled Dog Championship’s 24-year history that there has been a collision between a dog team and a vehicle. The Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association places volunteers at road crossings to assist mushers, who ultimately have responsibility for the safety of their teams.

Michigan law prohibits race volunteers from stopping vehicle traffic. Flashing safety lights were in place to warn oncoming traffic of activity on the highway. Upon seeing the approaching vehicle, race volunteers at the road crossing tried to warn Moe of the oncoming vehicle but he was unable to hear their calls. Volunteers also attempted to help stop the team from entering the highway but were unsuccessful.

Although neither the musher nor the volunteers were injured, one dog was killed and two dogs sustained injuries in the incident. The injured dogs are at a local veterinary clinic in serious but stable condition with 24-hour care. At this time, veterinarians feel both dogs will recover. Additionally, several other dogs on the team broke loose but all were recovered safely.

UP200 race officials, distressed over the trauma the accident had on the musher, his team, and the volunteers involved, worked with police to gather details of the incident. The driver of the vehicle, an unnamed resident from Ontario, Canada, stopped briefly but then left the scene. A short time later he contacted police who were investigating the incident. The Michigan State Police have determined the incident was an accident and no charges will be filed.

Our thoughts and condolences are with Frank, his family, and their dogs in the wake of this difficult tragedy.”