ANCHORAGE -- Willow musher Mike Nosko has dropped out of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race after his dog team was hit by a speeding snowmachiner.
The Iditarod Trail Committee is offering a $1,000 reward to the first person who provides information to Alaska State Troopers that leads to the driver's identity.
Nosko was 25 miles into the race, on the trail between Willow and Yentna, when the male snowmachiner hit some of the animals, including the two lead dogs. Nosko told troopers the driver had tried to avoid a collision just before impact.
The snowmachiner asked Nosko if the dogs were OK, apologized and then left, troopers said.
The dogs were bruised and banged up but their injuries are not life-threatening, according to Caroline Griffitts, a trail veterinarian. Nosko was forced to scratch Tuesday after he pulled into the Finger Lake checkpoint.
"He didn't have his leaders and that's why he scratched," Griffitts said.
Troopers are investigating the mishap. It's unclear at this point if any chargeable offense occurred, said Sgt. Dallas Massie. That could change, however, if it turns out the driver was intoxicated or was driving recklessly -- and there's proof, Massie said.
"This may have been just an unfortunate accident," Massie said.
The snowmachiner is described as white, in his 30s or 40s, dressed in black bibs and black and gray jacket, and wearing a black helmet with multicolored graphics. He was driving a red snowmachine with an Iron Dog sticker on it.
Besides Nosko, musher Chuck King has dropped out of the Iditarod so far. Race officials say King's performance was hampered by an eye condition in some AIDS patients that makes night vision difficult.