Musher Ryan Redington and dog team involved in hit-and-run snowmobile accident
Musher Ryan Redington and his team of dogs were allegedly involved in a hit-and-run snowmobile accident on Saturday in Bayfield County.
Redington told the Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office he was running his sled dogs on the Tri County Corridor when snowmobiles drove by. The incident report says one of the snowmobiles swerved at him and his team on the trail. The snowmobile hit at least one of the dogs.
"He hit my dogs, and I thought he was going to hit me. So I kicked my sled over. I was off the trail myself with my sled kicked over," Redington described. "And then I saw my wheel dog, Wildfire, go flying in the air towards me because he got hit by the snowmachine. Wildfire ended up having a broken leg in three spots."
A wheel dog is the position at the back of the team, closest to the musher’s sled.
Redington, a two-time Beargrease champion, spoke with WDIO on his drive back from the Twin Cities, where he had to take Wildfire for surgery. The procedure is scheduled for Tuesday. Wildfire has finished the Iditarod.
"There was an option to amputate or to put the pins in, and it was more expensive to do the pins, but I want to do right by my dogs to try to have him be where he could have all his legs and be — if he can’t run again, at least he’ll be OK, have all his legs," Redington said.
He posted on the Bayfield County Snowmobile Alliance Facebook page that, "The snowmobile driver just stopped at Skerbeck Road and was going down the trail on the right side and then he increased speeds and went left away from the right side of the trail to near the edge of the trail where my team was at and hit my team and I saw it happening and I knew I had to tip my sled to the right off the trail or otherwise he was going to connect with my sled and me."
A second dog team was behind Redington’s, driven by Sarah Keefer, another Beargrease musher. He said he was terrified her team would be hit too, but he says they escaped by inches.
Redington says he’s mushed on these trails for years and never encountered anything like this.
"I’ve had nothing but excellent encounters with every snowmobiler I’ve passed. I’ve never had anything like this at all," he said. "Most snowmachiners, lots of them stop and take pictures or video and give thumbs up and wave as we go by with smiles on their face. But this one was not like that whatsoever."
According to the report, Redington said the snowmobile went east on the corridor and did not stop. No registration or description of the driver was given, although Redington says the machine may have been yellow.
The Bayfield County Sheriff’s Office encourages anyone with information regarding this incident to call (715) 373-6120.
Keefer organized a GoFundMe for veterinarian expenses.
This is the second incident involving sled dogs and training. Last October, John Fisher’s team was struck by a vehicle near Button Box Road in Itasca County. Three of Fisher’s dogs were injured.