Brian Hutchins, 3/3/02, Snowmachine,
Nicholai P. Kelila, 3/4/02, Snowmachine, Hit Moose

Snowmobile accidents kill two, injure one
CRASHES: Chuathbaluk man dies after striking moose in Aniak.

By S.J. Komarnitsky
Anchorage Daily News (Published: March 5, 2002)

Two men were killed and one was seriously injured in three snowmachine accidents Sunday and Monday, Alaska State Troopers said. Two accidents happened along the Iditarod Trail.

The third, in the Kuskokwim River village of Aniak, occurred when Nicholai P. Kelila, 39, of Chuathbaluk, struck a moose and died, troopers said.

Troopers said Kelila was riding on a street on the east side of town about 5:40 a.m. Monday when he struck the moose calf. He appeared to have been going fast, dragging the calf for several feet and leaving behind tracks and gear along a roughly 100-foot stretch of road, trooper Michael Duxbury said. Kelila was pronounced dead at the scene, Duxbury said. The moose was killed.

Brian Hutchins On Sunday, Brian Hutchins, 44, and David Coffman, 53, were injured in separate accidents along the Iditarod Trail, troopers said. Hutchins, a Wasilla-area carpenter, died late Monday at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

He was the 14th person to die this winter in a snowmachine-related accident.

Hutchins' brother-in-law Tony Anthony said Hutchins was at the Knik Bar when a woman came in Sunday night and asked for help with a snowmachine that was broken down on Knik Lake near Wasilla. Hutchins and another man went to help.

A person then went back to the bar and said Hutchins was hurt.

"Right now, we don't know what happened," Anthony said.

Troopers were not called to respond to the Hutchins' accident, Sgt. Robert Cox said.

Coffman appeared to have suffered broken ribs after losing control of his machine on a bumpy stretch near the Yentna checkpoint, trooper Michael Wooten said. Coffman, who heads Seattle-based Coffman Engineers, was listed in fair condition late Monday at Providence. He was spending the weekend with friends and was headed back to a nearby cabin when he crashed, Wooten said.

Reporter S.J. Komarnitsky can be reached at or 907-352-6711.