WILMINGTON, N.Y. – Police on Wednesday were trying to piece together how a 49-year-old skier whose disappearance sparked a massive search on a snowy New York mountainside ended up six days later in California, confused and still in ski clothes.
Toronto firefighter Constantinos "Danny" Filippidis told investigators he doesn't know what happened after he was reported missing Wednesday, Feb. 7, from Whiteface Mountain during an annual ski trip with colleagues. The search ended Tuesday when Filippidis turned up in Sacramento, California, some 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometers) west of the Adirondacks.
"At this point, we want to assist Danny in getting back the last six days of his life," said New York State Police Maj. John Tibbitts.
Filippidis was heading back to the Lake Placid, New York, area on Wednesday. Tibbitts said the firefighter had agreed to be interviewed by state police but that he's not aware that Filippidis broke any laws.
Frank Ramagnano, president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters' Association, told reporters at a news conference Tuesday evening that Filippidis appeared to be "confused and was unable to give direct answers."
"He had phoned (his wife) and called her by a nickname. She quickly recognized the voice and that it was him," Ramagnano said. "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."
Filippidis told deputies he remembered little, but thought he'd suffered a head injury, rode in a "big rig-style truck" and slept "a lot," Sgt. Shaun Hampton of the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department told the Post-Standard of Syracuse.
Filippidis said he bought an iPhone to call his wife and told deputies that a truck dropped him off in downtown Sacramento, where he got a haircut, Hampton said.
Tibbitts said it was too early in the missing person investigation to comment on details provided from others. He also declined to estimate the cost of the six-day search, which involved a helicopter and up to 140 people a day, some combing the snow with hands.
Police distributed a picture of Filippidis taken in California on Tuesday, hoping people who recognize him can help solve the mystery.
"He wants to find out where he was as badly as we want to find out where he was," Tibbitts said.