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OUT OF THE RACE – Dogs from Canadian musher Jason Campeau’s team wait while Campeau checks in at the Circle City checkpoint. Photo by ROBIN WOOD/NEWS-MINER Inset Jason Campeau

Quest musher undergoing tests in Fairbanks

Alberta musher Jason Campeau has been airlifted to a Fairbanks hospital to be treated after suffering a concussion early in the race.

By Dustin Cook on February 9, 2018

DAWSON CITY – Alberta musher Jason Campeau has been airlifted to a Fairbanks hospital to be treated after suffering a concussion early in the race.

Campeau pressed the help button on his race-tracking device about 45 miles outside of Eagle on the way to Dawson around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, which was announced in a Quest press release Thursday afternoon.

He is currently undergoing a series of tests at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and his condition is stable.

Quest race marshal Doug Harris said volunteers immediately responded out of Eagle and located Campeau quickly.

“They were able to take him down to 40 Mile River and he was kept there overnight,” Harris said, noting Campeau and his dog team were cared for in a cabin overnight.

Because of his conditions, Harris said an EMT and nurse practitioner out of Eagle were brought in to check on him.

“They came out and assessed him and as a result of that a decision was made to take him to Fairbanks,” Harris said.

Campeau’s family and team from Atka Kennel are in Dawson and trying to get as much information as possible. His older brother Jody said Jason is still going through tests in Fairbanks.

“CAT Scan was inconclusive so they had him do a MRI and a whole other series of tests,” Jody said from Dawson Thursday evening. “Still waiting on some results. We’re hoping for the best here.”

Jason’s wife, Jennifer, was running her first Quest and upon reaching Eagle was notified of the situation. She immediately scratched from the race and was flown into Dawson with her team of 14 healthy dogs to be with the family.

“She’s here right now waiting on updates, like all of us,” Jody said.

Jennifer was reunited with their twin daughters Jessica and MacKenzie, and Jason’s parents are in Dawson as well.

Campeau was airlifted by military helicopter Thursday, Jody said, from the cabin and arrived at the hospital in the afternoon.

Harris said the rescue team had a little bit of difficulty locating the cabin and getting on the ground, but responded very quickly considering the darkness and remoteness of Campeau’s location.

“It was pretty awesome what the military did,” Harris said. “I’m very pleased with it.”

Jody said that Jason suffered a concussion going up Rosebud Summit early in the race, but continued on.

“Hugh Neff’s team was sort of tangled in front of him and as Jason sort of approached was trying to help,” Jody said. “Jas told me at the checkpoint his sled ended up completely inverted and he did a head plant right into the ice. It was Hugh’s voice yelling back at him that woke him up.”

Jody said Jason kept on going, but while out on the trails his conditions from the hit got worse and he passed out again climbing Eagle Summit.

“I think it just started getting progressively worse. Climbing (Eagle) Summit was a struggle for him,” Jody said. “I did hear that his headaches got progressively worse throughout the race.”

Harris said there was no indication at the Eagle checkpoint, as far as he is aware, that Jason was unable to continue.

“He hit his head again and that’s sort of what put him out of the race,” Jody said. “He realized that he couldn’t go on.”

Jody said Jason used to be a professional hockey player and as a result has dealt with concussions in the past.

“He has suffered a few concussions in the past so was very aware of what he was dealing with here,” he said.

This was Jason’s third running of the Quest after finishing in seventh place in his 2015 rookie race.

Waiting on news of his brother’s condition, Jody said the Yukon Quest organization has been very helpful and keeping the family in the loop.

“The Yukon Quest family has been unbelievable,” he said. “Every musher and their team concerned and willing to lend a hand. That’s been really touching for my family.”

For Jason’s dog team, Harris said arrangements were being made to get the team to Eagle and then flown to Dawson today.

In an update this morning, Harris said they are making the final preparations to get the dogs to Dawson and they are being well looked after in a heated cabin at 40 Mile River.

The weather is having an impact on their movement to Eagle, but the plan is to get them to Eagle and then fly them into Dawson.

“I was told it was really cold on American Summit and 40 mile an hour winds,” Harris said. “That’s delayed bringing the dogs over. We want to make sure they are well looked after on the trip over.”

Harris said that someone in Eagle has volunteered, as soon as the weather breaks, to pick up the dogs with his snow machine and bring them back the 60 miles to Eagle. He has a dog box on a sled that he made to bring dogs down to run the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race.

“It will be a great way to transport them, by snow machine,” Harris said.

This is the first plan, but Harris said they do have other options if it isn’t possible.

“Hopefully this works,” he said. “That could change depending on the weather and availability of people.”

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