Missing Toronto firefighter last seen on Lake Placid ski hill found across the country in California
A Toronto firefighter who went missing while on an annual ski trip to Lake Placid, N.Y., last Wednesday has been found across the country in Sacramento, Calif., according to the president of the Toronto Professional Fire Fighter’s Association (TPFFA) Frank Ramagnano.
Constantinos (Danny) Filippidis went missing at Whiteface Mountain in Wilmington, N.Y., on Feb. 7 and was last seen between 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Ramagnano said Filippidis had been skiing with a fellow firefighter who became tired and wanted to take a break.
“It was coming to the end of the day and Danny wanted to do a last run, so he was skiing alone when he went missing,” Ramagnano told reporters Tuesday, adding there was no indication of any problems.
“We’re relieved for everyone involved for Danny and his family. The information, we’re trying to gather right now. But most important thing is that he is alive.”
Ramagnano said Filippidis made contact with his wife just after noon on Tuesday using a cellphone, but that he does not remember how he was able to get a hold of the phone.
“She 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,” he said.
“Obviously, the family has a lot of emotions, everybody is pleased that he’s alive and well.”
WATCH: A Toronto firefighter who went missing while on a ski trip to Lake Placid, N.Y., last Wednesday has been found across the country in Sacramento, Calif., TPFFA president Frank Ramagnano told Global News.
New York State Police said in a statement Tuesday that Filippidis was in good health.
It is unclear at this time how Filippidis got to California from New York or when he got there.
“The circumstances regarding this case are under investigation, and further details will be released at a later time,” the New York State Police said.
Ramagnano said that Filippidis was found alone and in the same clothing he was last seen in.
“We understand that there will be speculation and many questions at this time, however, please appreciate that authorities will be conducting a full and thorough investigation into what transpired.”
The TPFFA told Global News last Thursday that the 49-year-old Filippidis went to the village, most known for hosting the 1980 Winter Olympics, for vacation and was joined by friends, family and other off-duty and retired firefighters.
Ramagnano said the group was skiing down Whiteface Mountain when they noticed he never made it down the hill after the chairlifts shut down at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
State officials said they started a search at 4:30 p.m., led by Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers in co-ordination with New York State Police and Whiteface Mountain staff.
Numerous organizations, including the Toronto Area Fire Services and volunteers, were part of the search party which totalled over 140 people, including close to a 100 firefighters as of Tuesday.
“I’m so proud of our members, how they all came together. No matter how the investigation unfolds, you cannot take away from all the volunteers and all the work that was put into finding Danny,” Ramagnano said.
“We use the terms ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ and I’m glad that they’re not just words. The actions of this past week really showed me that we really are a family.”
Ramagnano said Filippidis is currently receiving medical help and that his family is flying out to meet him.
Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said in a statement Tuesday that “we are all very relieved to know that he is safe, following what has been an exhaustive search operation.
“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.”
—With files from David Shum
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