On February 7, 49-year-old Constantinos “Danny” Filippidis vanished without a trace from Whiteface Mountain in New York. At the time of his disappearance, the Toronto firefighter had been participating in an annual ski trip with co-workers. As WCAX 3 reports, Filippidis was reported missing when he didn’t rejoin his party at the end of the day; authorities were particularly concerned for the skier’s well-being when his personal belongings (including his ID) were discovered at the ski lodge and his vehicle in the parking lot.
Over the next six days, multiple departments, including New York State Police, the New York Department of Emergency Management, Department of Homeland Security, and U.S. Customs and Border protection (not to mention resort staff and Danny Filippidis’ co-workers), scoured Whiteface Mountain, desperate to rescue the missing skier. As TIME reports, up to 140 individual searchers per day, some of whom were dedicated to combing the snow with their hands, scrambled to find clues to Filippidis’ whereabouts. Throughout the search efforts, authorities publicly presumed that the missing skier had not left the area of the Northern New York resort.
That theory was proven to be very incorrect on February 13. That was when the Toronto firefighter called his wife from the Sacramento International Airport in California, roughly 2,900 miles away from where he vanished.
“He had phoned (his wife) and called her by a nickname. She quickly recognized the voice and that it was him. Then they lost contact and he contacted her again and they kept him on the phone and asked him to call 911 to get him help as soon as possible.”
According to authorities, Danny Filippidis’ wife instructed him to call 911 to alert police to his location. When officers arrived on the scene, the missing skier was still wearing his ski clothes (including goggles and boots) from the previous week. He was reportedly somewhat disoriented and “confused and was unable to give direct answers.” The Toronto firefighter was unable to explain how he came to be at the Sacramento airport, claiming that he believed he had traveled across the country in an 18-wheeler.
Sergeant Shaun Hampton of the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department claims that the missing skier claimed to have almost no memory of the six days between his disappearance and recovery. Filippidis reportedly told authorities that he believed he had hit his head in New York, ridden in a “big rig-style truck,” and spent “a lot” of time sleeping before being dropped off in downtown Sacramento.
After being dropped off, the disoriented Toronto firefighter, who says he was carrying $1,000 cash and personal credit cards, reportedly bought an iPhone and stopped to get a haircut. Danny Filippidis used his new phone to contact his wife.
“He’s telling us that he really doesn’t have a clear picture of anything that’s happened in the last six days, and we have no reason to not believe him at this time…At this point, we want to assist Danny in getting back the last six days of his life.”
The missing skier was evaluated at a Sacramento hospital for a possible head injury. Authorities claim that they have no reason to doubt his story, and that they do not believe that he was under the influence of drugs. Danny Filippidis has reportedly agreed to be interviewed by police in Lake Placid, New York, in an attempt to fill in the many blanks surrounding his disappearance.
“He’s telling us that he really doesn’t have a clear picture of anything that’s happened in the last six days, and we have no reason to not believe him at this time.”
New York State Police are also asking for the public’s help in piecing together what happened to the missing Canadian skier. In addition to circulating a new photograph of Filippidis, which was taken in California on February 13 and shows the skier wearing the same ski attire he had on when he vanished from New York the previous week, New York State Police are asking anyone who may have seen the missing man from February 7 to 13 to come forward.
“If we could have somebody call that can prove that they actually met Danny on his journey across the country — I mean that would be a tremendous help to us.”
New York State Police Maj. John Tibbitts added that while the missing skier has agreed to answer questions, it doesn’t appear that he has broken any laws. At this time, authorities are also not planning on billing the Toronto firefighter for the expenses incurred during their week-long search, although an investigation into where he was throughout that time has been initiated.
“He wants to find out where he was as badly as we want to find out where he was.”