Musher drops from race to aid injured man

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2004

BETHEL - A musher competing in the Kuskokwim 300 sled dog race is credited with rescuing a snowmachiner who he happened upon during the race.

Musher Roy Wade forfeited his chance of winning the race in order to get medical attention to the unidentified man.

"I think his life was a little more important than getting a bunch of dogs down the trail," said Wade, who is a nurse in Fairbanks.

The musher was about 60 miles into the race past the village of Tuluksak when he spotted a snowmachine on its side at about 1:30 a.m. Saturday and a man in the snow near some elders.

The young snowmachiner had lost his hat and gloves in the crash and was incoherent, Wade said. Blood trickled from the man's nose and Wade said he knew he had to get the man to safety since temperatures were minus 30 on some portions of the trail that night.

"This person was not going to make it a long time under those conditions," Wade said.

Unable to start the man's snowmachine, Wade decided to use his dog sled as an ambulance. With the help of mushers Nathan Underwood and Jessie Royer, they unloaded his mushing gear and put the man inside a sleeping bag and onto the sled.

It was a 45-minute run back to Tuluksak in which Wade checked his patient every 10 to 15 minutes, he said. At the village, Wade found medical help for the man and he was later flown to Bethel.

After losing several hours and expending precious energy in helping the man, Wade decided to drop out of the 300-mile race.

He returned to the crash site, gathered his gear, and headed back to Bethel.

"I've been doing this for nine years, and this is my first scratch," he said Saturday from his race host's home in Bethel.

Wade said he didn't regret the decision and that he and the other mushers probably saved the man's life.

"If he'd laid around a little longer he would've been in a life-threatening situation," Wade said.

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