A skier reported missing last week on Whiteface Mountain was located this week in Sacramento, California. New York State Police say the investigation continues as they attempt to determine how the man ended up nearly 3,000 miles away.
During an annual ski trip with friends and co-workers, 49-year-old Constantinos “Danny” Filippidis of Toronto, Canada went missing while skiing on Whiteface Mountain in the Adirondacks. The search began on Wednesday, Feb. 7th as a major winter storm rolled into the area. NYS Police Troop B Commander Major John Tibbitts, speaking Wednesday in Raybrook, describes the initial efforts. “Danny, an intermediate skier, was last seen by members of his skiing party on that day at around 2:30 pm at the mountain’s mid-station lodge. A search commenced that day at approximately 5:00 pm by the New York state Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers and the mountain Ski Patrol. Personnel set out to look for Danny in what I would describe as treacherous winter storm conditions.”
State Police, DEC Forest Rangers and the Olympic Regional Development Authority coordinated the search with federal, local and volunteer groups. ORDA spokesman Jon Lundin says while it did not disrupt operations, it was the largest search ever undertaken on the mountain. “We had never experienced anything of this order before, a missing skier for such a long period of time, so this was something that was entirely new for Whiteface.”
Over the weeklong search, NYS DEC Regional Forest Ranger Captain John Streiff said most of the mountain was searched. “On Wednesday we began skiing and looking off the shoulders of the trails for Danny and then as those areas were ruled out and cleared we began doing our grid searching. But also we had to do some rapelling off the Wilmington run. So we really pretty much put in place every type of winter mountaineering searching including aviation and drones.”
Five and a half days into the search, Filippidis was located. On Tuesday afternoon he contacted his wife and then called local police in Sacramento, creating a new twist. Tibbitts says investigators are now trying to figure out how Filippidis got to California. “Danny really doesn't know what happened in the last five-and-a-half, six days of his life. We've asked him to come in and speak with us and he's agreed to do so.”
CBS-13 in Sacramento reports that Filippidis was wearing the same clothes he had on while skiing in New York. Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department Sargeant Shaun Hampton told the station Filippidis was apparently dropped off by a truck driver. “He related to the officers that he had been skiing in New York, believed he had hit his head or had been hit in the head. He said that he was dropped off by a truck driver. Said he slept a lot during the trip here and did not have a huge recollection as to how he got from A to B.”
Back in New York, Major Tibbitts points to a photograph taken of Filippidis in Sacramento Tuesday that is being distributed nationally. He says they need the public’s help to trace his route over the past week. “At this point we want to assist Danny in getting back the last six days of his life and we ask that no one jump to any conclusions. The circumstances surrounding this case are still under investigation and we're still trying to piece together the last six days. If anyone has seen Danny between Wednesday February 7th and Tuesday February 13th we would like them to please call the New York State Police at area code 518-873-2750. And if we could have somebody call that we can prove actually met Danny on his journey across the country I mean that would be a tremendous help to us.”
Filippidis was due back in Lake Placid late Wednesday. He was to be debriefed by the state police and does not face any charges. The cost of the search, which entailed over 6,000 person-hours of effort, has not been calculated.