ANCHORAGE (KTUU) Iditarod officials say that Flash, a 4-year-old male on the team of veteran racer Katherine Keith of Kotzebue, died at 1 a.m. today 10 miles outside of Koyuk.
Flash collapsed while running and is the second dog to die on this year's 979-mile trail. Two other dogs died after being "dropped," or left in the care of others, by racing mushers. They include:
-- Deacon, a 2-year-old husky running for veteran Seth Barnes, died before reaching the Galena checkpoint at 11:40 p.m. Thursday.
-- Smoke, a 2-year-old on the team of Scott Smith, appears to have died of hyperthermia, or overheating, while being flown late Friday from Galena to Anchorage. Stout, a second dog on the same flight, was treated and released for hyperthermia symptoms. Stout was racing for rookie Justin High. Race organizers announced they were changing procedures for transporting dropped dogs following the flight.
-- Groovey, one of former Iditarod winner John Baker’s dogs, was hit by a vehicle in Anchorage after being transported from the trail. The dog was not in the custody of Iditarod officials at the time and had been in good health prior to the accident, according to a race spokeswoman.
A necropsy will be performed to determine the cause of death for Flash. Keith, 38, has completed two Iditarods.
The race is the premiere event for distance dog sled racing and went three years without a death beginning in 2010. Several huskies have expired in more recent years. Following the deaths this year, PETA renewed calls for an end to the race.
Here are the number of deaths each year, provided by a race spokeswoman: