The Canadian skier found in Sacramento after an exhaustive search for him in New York told local deputies he was dropped off here by a big-rig driver sometime Monday night, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
Constantinos “Danny” Filippidis, a Toronto firefighter, was wearing the snow gear his friends last saw him in Feb. 7 before he went missing at the Whiteface Mountain ski resort in Wilmington, N.Y., prompting a massive search that included state and federal agencies.
Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies working at the Sacramento International Airport found Filippidis near the rental car facility about 9:30 a.m. Tuesday after the department’s dispatch center received a 911 call from him, said spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton.
Filippidis, 49, told deputies the last thing he remembered was going skiing in New York, and that he believed he had some sort of head injury but could not remember exactly what happened, according to Hampton. He mostly slept while in the big rig, and deputies believe he purchased a cellphone at some point.
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As of Wednesday, the department had no reason to believe he was taken by force or under the influence of drugs, Hampton said.
“He was very nonchalant, and kind of out of it,” Hampton said. “Our officers were adamant to take him to the hospital to have him treated.”
Filippidis could not tell deputies what the big rig looked like or who the driver was, saying that he only remembered being dropped off at a McDonald’s near a tall building. He likely spent the night outdoors.
Filippidis’ sense of time was impaired, said Hampton, adding the man did not know what day it was. He was carrying a credit card and nearly $1,000 in cash but no identification. He was taken to a Yolo County hospital after making contact with deputies.
The call to police came after Filippidis phoned his wife, who recognized his voice and said he called her by a nickname, according to Frank Ramagnano, the Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association president. He spoke during a news conference Tuesday afternoon, which was posted online by a Toronto news station.
The couple initially lost contact, but Filippidis called his wife back, and she persuaded him to dial 911, Ramagnano said. Photographs provided by Sacramento sheriff’s deputies to search crews in New York helped identify Filippidis, ending a nearly six-day search for him in areas surrounding the ski resort.
Filippidis went missing during an annual ski trip with colleagues, Ramagnano said. When a friend wanted to take a break just before the resort’s closing time, Filippidis decided to go on one more run by himself.
An official search began a few hours after he was last seen, the New York State Police said in a news release following Filippidis’ disappearance. Search crews of about 140 people, including state forest rangers, police, resort staff and volunteers, scoured the area looking for him, said Jon Lundin, a spokesman for the New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs the ski resort.
Dozens of Filippidis’ colleagues traveled to the Whiteface Mountain ski resort after he went missing.
The state’s emergency management and fire prevention department, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection also joined the search.
Hampton said he did not know Filippidis’ medical state Wednesday morning. New York State Police Major John H. Tibbitts Jr. said during an afternoon news conference that he had been released from the hospital and was en route to New York to speak to investigators. The news conference aired on the website of New York television station WNYT.
Filippidis has agreed to speak to New York police as they piece together the circumstances surrounding the incident, Tibbitts said. The state police is asking anyone who may have seen Filippidis during his trip from New York to Sacramento to call 518-873-2750.
“We are currently awaiting Danny’s safe return to the Lake Placid area so we can speak to him,” Tibbitts said. “At this point, we want to assist Danny in getting back the last six days of his life and ask no one jump to any conclusions.”