Jennifer Smith, partner of Lance Mackey, dies in ATV accident north of Fairbanks

Jennifer Smith (left) on a tag sled at the ceremonial start of the 2020 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Anchorage, Alaska. (Courtesy Tony Reitter)

Jennifer Smith, 32, has died in an ATV accident north of Fairbanks. Smith shared a home and sled dog kennel with mushing champion Lance Mackey, who described her in a Facebook post as “friend, partner and mother of my babies.”

Alaska State Troopers reported that Smith’s body was found alongside Old Murphy Dome Road, near a friend’s house, on Monday morning. Smith and Mackey’s home is in the same rural neighborhood.

Trooper spokesperson Tim DeSpain said Smith was on her way home after visiting a friend late Sunday night when she crashed and became trapped under the machine. DeSpain says Smith’s absence was not noticed until morning.

In a Facebook post, Mackey said the couple’s two young children were at home with him at the time of the accident.

Mackey, who has been going through rehabilitation for methamphetamine addiction since failing a drug test in this year’s Iditarod, credits Smith for helping him through the process over the last 7 months.

An outpouring of support from the mushing community followed the news. As of Thursday afternoon, Mackey’s announcement on Facebook had received over 2,500 notes of condolence.