Lost skier en route back to Adirondacks for police questioning
RAY BROOK — New York State Police held a press conference today regarding Constantinos “Danny” Filippidis, the skier who went missing at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Center in Wilmington Feb. 7 and was found six days later in Sacramento, California, still in his ski gear and with an apparent loss of memory.
“The circumstances surrounding this case are still under investigation, and we are still trying to piece together the last six days,” said Troop B Commander Maj. John Tibbits. “We are so pleased that he has been found and he will be reunited with his family and friends.”
As far as how the 49-year-old Toronto firefighter ended up in California, that is a mystery state police hope to solve.
“There’s there’s one slight thing: Danny really doesn’t know what happened in the last five-and-a-half, six days of his life,” Tibbits said. “We’ve asked him to come in and speak with us, and he’s agreed to do so. Certainly he’s not going to be restricted. You know, as soon as we’re done with our investigative steps, he’ll be able to go home.”
Tibbits said Filippidis is en route back to the Lake Placid region of his own accord for questioning from state police.
“I don’t know exactly where he is,” Tibbits said. “We’re planning on seeing him some point today. He’s technically coming back on his own, but there are people with him.”
State police interviewed friends and family members of Filippidis, but couldn’t provide further information on what they said.
Protocol for a missing person investigation calls for monitoring credit card and cellphone accounts. Tibbits said they have been working on it, but that part of the investigation is incomplete at this time. Tibbits also mentioned how state police are trying to acquire medical records from the hospital Filippidis stayed at in California, but that process takes time.
“We can’t just arbitrarily go in and get it,” he said. “We can ask for permission from Danny, and, you know, if as long as he’s willing to consent, we can get those records. If it came down to it, a lot of instances, you know, involving criminal cases, we can go for a court order, but I don’t believe that’s going to be necessary here.”
Capt. John Streiff of the New York state forest rangers spoke about the nearly week-long search-and-rescue efforts on Whiteface. He described the conditions as “very, very frigid mountain territory” and said ice and fluctuating weather didn’t help.
“Other than a few lower leg injuries and small bruises, we came off very safely for such an arduous operation,” Streiff said.
The search-and-rescue involved more than 140 workers and volunteers from multiple organizations such as state police, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, U.S. Border Patrol and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs Whiteface. It utilized helicopters, drones, dogs and more than 6,000 hours of work, according to Streiff. Searchers skied and walked around Whiteface, set up search grids and even rappelled down parts of the mountain in hopes of finding Filippidis.
If he had been at Whiteface, “I think we would’ve found him eventually,” Streiff said. “I can tell you that we’re very happy that Danny’s home with his family and very happy for all support we received on the search and the fact that we didn’t miss him. He wasn’t there.”
If Filippidis wasn’t found in California, Streiff said there weren’t plans to stop the search.
“No, we were actually making plans to go through the weekend, and it was certainly going to get scaled back,” he said. “We were certainly running out of places to search, but once again we were going to wait for the weather to cooperate with us and possibly reduce snowpack.”
From a search management perspective, Streiff said he thinks it all went “very, very well.”
Filippidis told a friend and his wife that he was surprised and overwhelmed with the search-and-rescue efforts, according to Tibbits.
Tibbits presented a photo of Filippidis taken Tuesday and said that if anyone saw him between the time he went missing and the time he was found call the state police at 518-873-2750.
“If we could have somebody call that we can prove actually met Danny on his his journey across the country, I mean, that would be a tremendous help to us,” he said.