Former Iron Dog Champion Seriously Injured in Crash
“The first three things that went through my mind was it was a broken upper femur, a dislocated hip or a busted pelvis,” Booth said. “I made sure he was OK, that no bones were sticking out and he wasn’t bleeding out.
Then Booth used Huntington’s snowmachine to help block the wind, which he said was blowing about 30-35 mph. He then covered Huntington with a space blanket. The temperature was about 10 degrees above zero.
“It wasn’t horrible but the wind can bust it down pretty quick,” Booth said of the weather.
Booth raced into Shaktoolik to alert villagers to call Alaska State Troopers and to get help in the form of manpower to help move Huntington.
“It took me two minutes to get there, one minute to give them instructions and two minutes to get back to him,” Booth said.
Once back with Huntington, Booth used his satellite phone to call troopers and Bering Air in Nome to prepare them for a medevac.
“I made sure they knew it was life threatening,” Booth said.
Villager Dale Sookiayak showed up with a sleeping bag that they zipped Huntington into and other villagers showed up on snowmachines, including a health aide who gave Huntington a shot of morphine so he could be loaded onto a stretcher and into the dog sled.
“There was no way I could move,” Huntington said.
Drawing from experience when he dislocated his hip back in 2001, Booth knew time was of the essence in that environment.
“The main thing I wanted to get out there was morphine to get him settled down so he didn’t go into shock,” Booth said.
The accident happened about 3 p.m. and rescuers had Huntington in Shaktoolik by 5 p.m. He arrived in Anchorage by medevac about 10 p.m.
Huntington said it was fortunate he was so close to Shaktoolik when the crash happened.
“If I was any further out they would have had to get a helicopter,” he said.
Huntington and Booth were a last-minute entry in the 2,000-mile Iron Dog, scheduled to start February 15 in Big Lake. They replaced the team of Micah Huss, of Willow, and Dan Lowrie, of Phoenix, when that duo pulled out of the race 2 1/2 weeks ago. Huntington and Booth were considered top contenders among the 40 two-man teams entered in this year’s Iron Dog race.
The two riders were on a 1,000-mile training run from Nome to the Yukon River village of Ruby and back when the accident occurred. They were planning to spend the night in Galena, which is Huntington’s hometown.
“We were going to Ruby and back to Galena, and we were going to spend the night in Galena and go back to Nome,” Huntington said.
The crash ended Huntington’s dream of winning a third Iron Dog title in four years. He won back-to-back Iron Dog titles with Chris Olds in 2010 and 2011 and finished second last year with Tre West, of Nome.