Wintry weather hampers ground search for Toronto firefighter missing in N.Y. state

Weather is hampering the search for a Toronto firefighter who was last seen on Wednesday afternoon on a ski trip on Whiteface Mountain in New York state.

More than 140 people are looking for Constantinos 'Danny' Filippidis on Whiteface Mountain

New York State Police say Constantinos 'Danny' Filippidis, 49, from Toronto, went missing at Whiteface Mountain, in Wilmington, N.Y. on Wednesday. Filippidis, an intermediate skier, was last seen on Wednesday between 2:30-4:30 p.m. (New York State Police)

Wintry weather is hampering the search for a Toronto firefighter who was last seen on Wednesday afternoon on a ski trip on Whiteface Mountain in upstate New York.

Constantinos "Danny" Filippidis, 49, identified by New York State Police, is considered an intermediate skier. Police have released two photos of him.

Jon Lundin, spokesperson for the Olympic Regional Development Authority, which runs the Whiteface ski centre, said the weather is making the search more difficult. About 10 Toronto area firefighters are taking part in the effort.

"Our search is continuing today for our firefighter. Our searchers are working on ski, on foot and also on snowshoe," Lundin said from Whiteface Mountain, near Lake Placid, N.Y.

"We've had some snow and some wind and some cold weather during the search." 
New York State Police have released two photos of Constantinos 'Danny' Filippidis. (New York State Police)

​Lundin said more than 140 people are looking for Filippidis, but there is no one area of the mountain where the search is concentrated. The mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks, is in Wilmington, N.Y.

"We're searching all aspects of the mountain," he said. "We are continuing our search. We're optimistic." 

The terrain is mountainous, with ski trails, wooded areas, tree branches and rocks on the ground, he said.

Volunteers aiding the search

Volunteers are taking part in the search. It includes police, forest rangers from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Office of Emergency Management, Office of Fire Prevention Services, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Whiteface and Gore Mountain ski patrol.

Lundin said the searchers have divided themselves into smaller groups as they look for Filippidis through "working grids." Helicopters and drones have done an aerial search, while dogs are being used on the ground, he added. 
People are seen skiing on Whiteface Mountain. Kevin McCarthy, vice-president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association, said Constantinos "Danny" Filippidis is part of a group making an annual ski trip. (The Associated Press)

The search began shortly after 8 a.m. on Friday and will wrap up for the day after sunset, he said. The effort, involving police, forest rangers and ski resort staff, began on Wednesday at 4:30 p.m., after Filippidis was discovered missing. A search was also conducted on Thursday.

Lundin said the search will resume on Saturday and on Sunday if need be.

​According to police in a news release issued on Friday, Filippidis was last seen wearing a green ski jacket, black helmet and red skis. He is described as 5-foot-10, 220 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.

Police said it is not known how Filippidis got separated from the ski party.

According to police, Filippidis went missing about the same time as a strong snowstorm that resulted in poor visibility.

More than a metre of snow has fallen in the last 24 hours.

Firefighters hoping for 'positive outcome'

Kevin McCarthy, vice-president of the Toronto Professional Firefighters Association, said Filippidis was part of a group of off-duty and retired firefighters, friends and family making an annual ski trip.

The association is grateful that so many people are involved in the search.

"We just want to thank those people who are involved. We appreciate the efforts that are there," he said. "Obviously, we are hoping for a very positive outcome."

Police said Whiteface Mountain remains in full operation.

Skiers and snowboarders at Whiteface Mountain who notice anything out of the ordinary are asked to notify the mountain's ski patrol.

Anyone who may have information, or may have seen Filippidis, is asked to call the New York State Police at (518) 873-2750.

With files from Alison Chiasson, The Canadian Press