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Vehicle leaves Parks Highway, strikes musher and sled dogs near Willow

By KTVA CBS 11 News 9:48 PM November 25, 2014

Last updated Wednesday, Nov. 26 at 9 a.m.

Musher Karin Hendrickson is in the hospital with a broken back and leg after a car veered off the Parks Highway Tuesday night and hit the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race veteran and her sled dogs.

She was taken to Mat-Su Regional Medical Center and later transported to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage, according posts on her Facebook page.

“Looks like I’m going to be out of commission for awhile,” she wrote. “At Mat su regional emergency waiting to be transported to anchorage. Broken back and leg. One team dog still missing but everyone else amazingly just minor injuries. Could have been so much worse.”

Early Wednesday morning, the Willow Dog Mushers Association posted on their Facebook page that the missing dog, Sable, had been located.

At around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities responded to the crash at Mile 91 of the highway in the Willow area. There, they found Hendrickson and her sled dogs. An investigation revealed a northbound vehicle driven by 68-year-old Mabel Quilliam of Talkeetna left the roadway and struck an ATV Hendrickson was operating, which was being pulled by the dog team, according to an online dispatch posted by Alaska State Troopers Wednesday morning.

Mat-Su Borough spokesperson Patty Sullivan says a helicopter was unable to land near the scene of the accident, but first responders were able to eventually transport her to a local hospital.

Hendrickson’s friend, Jennifer Hawks, says she heard about the accident a few minutes after it happened.

“She was on a practice run, a nighttime run, standard nighttime run” said Hawks, adding that Hendrickson had 14 dogs with her when they were struck.

When authorities responded, 11 dogs were rounded up, Sullivan said. Later in the evening, another two dogs were located. As of 11:15 p.m., all the dogs had been found except for Sable, Hawks said.

Hawks added that two of the dogs they had in their care Tuesday appeared to have only minor injuries, and were examined by a veterinarian.

“There’s quite a few mushers and people in the community who have really pulled together to really find her dogs,” Hawks said Tuesday night. “We’re out there walking on foot and in vehicles, headlamps on and going down side streets and calling and trying really hard to find this one last dog.”

Hendrickson, who has registered for the 2015 Iditarod, has completed the race four times before. Raised in California, she now works in environmental regulation and lives north of Willow, according to her biography on the Iditarod website.

After working as a volunteer for the Iditarod more than a decade ago, she says she became enamored with mushing and started building her team in 2006.

This story will be updated. Please check back for more information.

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