Toronto firefighter located safely in California after going missing in New York
Kayla Goodfield, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, February 13, 2018 3:32PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, February 13, 2018 11:03PM EST
A Toronto firefighter who went missing last week while skiing in Wilmington, N.Y. has been located “alive and in good health” in Sacramento, Calif., New York State Police said.
Constantinos ‘Danny’ Filippidis, 49, was reported missing after being last seen on Feb. 7 at Whiteface Mountain during an annual ski trip with seven other colleagues.
According to the president of Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association, Frank Ramagnano, Filippidis went missing after leaving the company of one of his colleagues who was tired and wanted to take a break from skiing.
The multi-agency search for the missing firefighter at one point included more than 140 forest rangers, state police officers, members of Homeland Security, area ski patrols and Toronto firefighters.
Filippidis reached out to his wife while in Sacramento Tuesday afternoon, Ramagnano said.
“He had called (his wife), he had called her a nickname and she quickly recognized the voice that it was him,” he said.
“She (Filippidis’ wife) was communicating with him from the command centre and the state police were working to try and secure his safety. This was accomplished by the local authorities by making contact and confirming his identity.”
While speaking with Sacramento police, Filippidis said he was missing and declined the fact that he was a victim of a crime.
“He identified himself and he was transported from our custody to a local hospital where he is getting treatment,” Sgt. Shaun Hampton with Sacramento police told CP24 in an interview over the phone on Tuesday evening. “He believes he suffered a head injury at some point but is unclear as to when that occurred.”
It is not known how Filippidis was able to get from New York to California as union officials said he did not have identification on him at the time.
Hampton said Filippidis told officials he slept for a great deal of the trip from the east to west coast of the United States.
“After speaking with him (Filippidis) it sounds as if he may have gotten a ride in a big rig – he was unable to provide us with a description of the big rid or a description of the driver of the big rig – but he was found with cash in his possession and a Visa card and a cell phone he had recently purchased,” he said.
Hampton added officers believe he was a “willing participant” of this journey and said that drugs or alcohol did not appear to be a factor in the incident.
The firefighter was found in California still wearing his ski gear appearing “dazed and confused,” Ramagano said.
“He wasn’t able to give direct answers,” he said. “Police that eventually made contact with him were concerned and brought him to get some medical attention.”
“He still had the same clothing he was skiing in and the authorities seem to think that he had been in those clothing since he’s been missing. Apparently he still had his heavy jacket, his ski pants were on and I’m told his helmet and ski goggles were with him as well.”
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg issued a statement regarding the incident after Filippidis was found.
“We are all very relieved to know that he is safe, following what has been an exhaustive search operation,” Pegg said. “Although details are limited at this time, we have been advised that he is in the care of police in Sacramento.”
“On behalf of Toronto Fire Services, I would like to thank all those who participated in the search.”
New York State Police said the circumstances regarding this case remain “under investigation and said further details will be released at a “later time.”
“There were a lot of resources that New York State put into this search and they’re going to want to make sure that nothing here was done maliciously, as they should. They’ll do a comprehensive investigation,” Ramagnano said.
Sacramento police said no criminal investigation is being conducted.