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Fire captain who went missing on NY trip found 'confused' in Calif.

Constantinos Filippidis, alone and disoriented, was still wearing his ski pants, helmet and goggles when he called his distraught wife from a Sacramento airport


By Nicole Hensley
New York Daily News

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A massive five-day search for a Toronto firefighter who vanished during an upstate New York ski trip ended Tuesday after he was found alive, well, and nearly 3,000 miles away in California.

Constantinos Filippidis, alone and disoriented, was still wearing his ski pants, helmet and goggles when he called his distraught wife from a Sacramento airport, according to fire officials and local reports.

The 49-year-old fire captain was unable to explain to her or local authorities how he trekked about 2,900 miles from the Whiteface Mountain ski resort he disappeared from Wednesday.

“He was confused. He wasn’t able to give direct answers,” Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association President Frank Ramagnano said.

Filippidis did, however, remember a nickname for his wife.

“She quickly recognized the voice and that it was him,” Ramagnano told reporters at a press conference.

Filippidis, a 28-year veteran of the Toronto Fire Department, had been visiting Whiteface Mountain for a ski retreat with about eight colleagues, the union boss said. As his pals called it quits for the day, Filippidis went out for one last ski run the afternoon of Feb. 7 and never returned.

He told Sacramento County Sheriff’s deputies he may have suffered a head injury while skiing.

Filippidis remembers being in a “big rig-style truck” and sleeping for much of the ride, sheriff spokesman Sgt. Shaun Hampton told the Post-Standard. When he was dropped off in downtown Sacramento, the sergeant said Filippidis got a haircut.

Dozens of his co-workers, including Ramagnano, left their Canadian posts and flocked to the Wilmington wilderness to help Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers, New York State Police and Whiteface Mountain ski patrol look for him, never realizing he was nowhere near the Adirondack Mountains.

Federal agents with the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection joined the search, which involved more than 140 people trying to find Filippidis.

“How you end up from New York state to California, people are going to assume what they’re going to assume,” Ramagnano added.

He said he was unaware of Filippidis have a history of mental illness.

The circumstances behind Filippidis' disappearance, and how he wound up on the West Coast, remain under investigation, according to state police.

Toronto Fire Services Chief Matthew Pegg offered fewer details other than "he is in the care of the Police in Sacramento."

"We are all very relieved to know that he is safe, following what has been an exhaustive search operation," Pegg said in a statement.  

Copyright 2018 New York Daily News

 

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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