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Friends of a woman who died during a hike with a man she met online have called for an investigation after it emerged her date claimed she had gone off on her own during their trek.
Police officer Dario Dizdar took 31-year-old Angela Tramonte on a hike as a first date shortly before she was found dead. Authorities say they don’t suspect any foul play.
But her friends are now questioning why he allegedly abandoned her halfway through their desert hike.
Tramonte went for a hike up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix on Friday along with local Police Officer Dizdar.
The woman was found dead at around 4.40pm near a home at the base of the mountain.
Mr Dizdar told authorities that she had become “overheated” around halfway up the mountain and decided to turn around while he carried on walking up the mountain.
The off-duty officer also said that when he got back to the parking lot, he couldn’t find Ms Tramonte and called emergency services to report her missing. Her body was found hours later.
The local coroner has listed her cause of death as “pending”.
Ms Tramonte had left her home in Massachusetts and travelled to Arizona to meet Mr Dizdar, fire officials told The Daily Beast on Monday.
Friends have said that Ms Tramonte and Mr Dizdar had been speaking to each other online for about two months, but that the Pheonix rendezvous was the first time they met in person.
Mr Dizdar joined the Pheonix Police Department in 2007. According to records seen by The Daily Beast, he was disciplined in 2009 after lying to an officer about his identity during a criminal investigation, giving them a false name and age.
Mr Diszdar’s identity and his connection to Ms Tramonte was first detailed by ABC15.
Phoenix Fire Department spokesperson Rob McDade told The Daily Beast that Mr Dizdar identified himself as a police officer to emergency responders. Phoenix Police Department spokesperson Mercedes Fortune told the outlet that no “traumatic injuries” were seen on the body of Ms Tramonte when she was found.
“At this time there is no evidence to indicate foul play is suspected,” she added.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said no charges have been filed against anyone in the case.
“We want answers, we want justice and we want an investigation to go further and we want to see what this guy was really all about,” Stacey Gerardi told CBS Boston.
“As a first responder you’re supposed to help people,” she added. “Why would you not walk her back down? Why would you continue to walk back up.”
“Knowing she’d be down there, she’d be by herself, it makes no sense,” Sarina Viola said.
Mr McDade said the Pheonix Fire Department got a call from Mr Dizdar at around 1pm. The officer told authorities they started their hike around 10am. When he had walked back to the car, Ms Tramonte’s belongings were there but she wasn’t.
Ms Fortune said Mr Dizdar told police that neither of them brought water on the hike and that Ms Tramonte had asked him to continue up the mountain to take pictures that she could share on social media and that they agreed to meet at the car.
A 30-member rescue team along with a helicopter searched the mountain and she was found unresponsive off the trail, close to a house.
Mr McDade told The Daily Beast that the trail up the mountain is “highly technical” and that even physically fit individuals can find it challenging. He also noted that the temperature on Friday was 105 degrees (40.5 C).
The spokesman said it’s possible that she could have lost sight of the trail and moved towards the homes seeking aid.
“Once you get off the trail you’re in trouble,” he said. “Now you’re just walking through the Sonoran Desert.”
“At that point in time, [she] could have conceivably been in the early stages of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, where you become delirious, and unfortunately, your faculties are not about you,” Mr McDade said at the scene on Friday according to The Boston Globe.
“It’s very unforgiving, is the word I like to use. This mountain doesn’t care who you are, or how great of a hiker or an experienced hiker you are,” he told reporters. “The mountain, in a situation like that, usually wins.”
Melissa Buttaro, who identified herself as a friend of Ms Tramonte, started a GoFundMe page to help with transport and funeral expenses.
“Halfway up the mountain, Angela told this man, who is a police officer and first responder, that she was exhausted and couldn’t continue. She supposedly walked back down the mountain ALONE to the car while this man continued on by himself. He clearly has no regard for her safety,” she wrote on the page.
“Angela lived a very healthy, active lifestyle. She woke up early every morning to go the gym. She did weekly meal planning and was obsessed with drinking water. She also loved walking her dog, Dolce every day. There are many inconsistencies in the timeline and facts that just don’t make any sense. We just want justice for our friend,” she added.
Internal Phoenix Police Department documents published by ABC15 last year show that Mr Dizdar was previously disciplined and put on the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office “Brady list” tracking officers with integrity concerns because of previous misconduct.
The office told The Daily Beast that Mr Dizdar is still on the list.
According to an internal document, Mr Dizdar was at a Sangria Lounge in Glendale, Arizona, in September 2009 when he was questioned by an officer about an unidentified friend who allegedly had been assaulted outside the bar. According to the report, Mr Dizdar didn’t witness the assault and identified himself as a Pheonix police officer. But the document states that he gave a fake name and date of birth to the officer, as well as the wrong number for the victim.
Before the start of his next shift, Mr Dizdar told his supervisor the truth about what had occurred, apologised, and then cooperated with a Glendale detective looking into the assault.
Ms Fortune told The Daily Mail in a statement: “The city employee who was with Ms Tramonte is a witness and is cooperating with investigators. He has been granted personal time off and has been offered resources to deal with this tragedy.”