A veteran firefighter who vanished while on a ski trip in upstate New York has been found five days later, alive and still wearing his snow gear — nearly 3,000 miles away in California, officials said.
Constantinos Filippidis, 49, visited Whiteface Mountain for a ski retreat with colleagues when he went out for one last ski run the afternoon of Feb. 7.
But Filippidis, a 28-year veteran of the Toronto Fire Department who goes by “Danny,” never returned.
About 100 Toronto firefighters traveled to Wilmington, N.Y., to help the Department of Environmental Conservation, New York State Police and Whiteface Mountain ski patrol look for the married father of two.
But the search came to an end when Filippidis called his wife from a Sacramento airport, authorities said.
“We are all very relieved to know that he is safe, following what has been an exhaustive search operation,” Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said in a statement. “Although details are limited at this time, we have been advised that he is in the care of the police in Sacramento.”
Filippidis was alone and disoriented when he called his wife, who quickly recognized his voice.
He was also still wearing the black ski helmet, Oakley goggles, green ski jacket and black ski pants he had on when he disappeared.
“He kinda found himself,” Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association President Frank Ramagnano told reporters at a press conference.
Filippidis was reportedly unable to explain to his wife or the authorities how he wound up about 2,900 miles away on the other side of the country.
“He was confused,” Ramagnano said. “He wasn’t able to give direct answers.”
Filippidis told deputies he may have suffered a head injury while skiing and he remembered sleeping while riding in a “big rig-style truck” and that he had gotten a haircut after arriving in Sacramento, Sgt. Shaun Hampton with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department told the Post-Standard.
He said he also bought an iPhone, which he used to call his wife.
Deputies didn’t entirely believe Filippidis’s story until they ran his information through a missing persons’ database.
“Our deputies didn’t immediately understand the gravity of the situation,” Hampton told the paper.
Filippidis had moments of lucidity while he was with the deputies, but he also couldn’t remember how he traveled from downtown Sacramento to the airport, about 11 miles away.
“It seemed he had a significant amount of memory loss,” Hampton said.
In announcing the discovery of Filippidis, New York State Police said “the circumstances regarding this case are under investigation.”