Runaway snowmachine kills veteran musher
STRUCK: Fred Jordan of Tanana dies in Huslia after apparent accident.
By Anne Marie Tavella
Anchorage Daily News, April 9, 2002
A runaway snowmachine zooming down a trail in Huslia ran over and killed veteran musher Fred Jordan of Tanana early Sunday morning.
Jordan, 53, was on foot when he was struck just after midnight, Alaska State Troopers said.
According troopers, Sterling Dewilde, 21, of Huslia was trying to hand-start a new Polaris. Trooper Lantz Dahlke said Dewilde had pinned the throttle open and when he managed to start it, the snowmachine immediately took off.
Dahlke said the large black and red 800cc model had enormous power.
"It's sort of like putting a Chevy motor in a Volkswagen," he said.
Pinning a throttle open on a snowmachine or other equipment presents a dangerous situation, Dahlke said.
"That's definitely something that shouldn't have been done," he said.
The incident is still under investigation and the case will be forwarded to the district attorney's office for review, Dahlke said. No foul play is suspected; an autopsy was planned to confirm the cause of death.
Robin Carlo, Jordan's daughter, said he had gone to Huslia, about 290 air miles west of Fairbanks, to watch his niece and nephew race in the village's spring carnival sled dog race. Carlo said her father loved the area and attended the event whenever he could.
Jordan was born in raised in Tanana, a village of about 300 along the Yukon River, and spent most of his time outdoors, trapping in winter and fishing in summer.
He won many middistance races and was credited for mushing innovations like using wrist wraps for curing canine sprains and using smaller sprint dogs in long-distances races, now widespread practices among mushers.
"He was raised around dogs, and that was his life," Carlo said. "That's what he loved to do."
Jordan used his extensive knowledge of the outdoors and dog mushing to instruct and help people whenever they needed it, she said. "He always gave good advice."
Carrie Farr, Jordan's neighbor of 13 years, said she learned to race dogs with Jordan's help. She has twice finished in the top 10 of the Yukon Quest.
"He was really an amazing guy," she said. "He knew more about dogs than just about anyone."