Watch: Saugus woman dies of heat-related illness on Arizona hike
Angela Tramonte had been in Phoenix for less than 24 hours when she was found dead on a hiking trail last Friday. Now her friends are asking questions about her relationship with an off-duty cop who was with her that day—and who has a documented history of lying.
Tramonte, 31, had flown into the city to meet with Dario Dizdar, a Phoenix police officer, fire officials told The Daily Beast on Monday. Friends said the pair had been speaking online for two months, and that it was the first time they met in person.
Dizdar began a hike with Tramonte on Friday afternoon, but kept going when Tramonte became tired and “overheated,” fire officials said in a news release. Later, Dizdar did not find Tramonte in the car, and called to report her missing. Her body was found hours later, and she was pronounced dead.
No one has been charged with any crime in connection with Tramonte’s death, and the cause of her death is listed as “pending” by the local coroner.
Meanwhile, Dizdar, who has been with the Phoenix Police Department since 2007, was previously disciplined for lying to Arizona police about his identity during a 2009 criminal investigation, according to internal affairs documents viewed by The Daily Beast.
Dizdar’s identity and his relationship to Tramonte were first reported on Monday by ABC 15. Initially, it was unclear whether the cop identified himself to emergency responders last week as a police officer. But Rob McDade, a spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department, told The Daily Beast that Dizdar did just that early on.
“He did let us know,” McDade said.
Dizdar did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Mercedes Fortune, a spokeswoman for the Phoenix Police Department, told The Daily Beast in a statement that no “traumatic injuries” were seen on Tramonte when she was found. “At this time there is no evidence to indicate foul play is suspected,” she wrote.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told The Daily Beast that no charges against Dizdar or anyone else have been filed related to Tramonte’s death.
Tramonte flew from Boston to Phoenix Thursday, according to a GoFundMe account created on Sunday by Melissa Buttaro, who identified herself as a friend of Tramonte. Tramonte had been speaking online with Dizdar for two months and, less than 24 hours after she landed, the pair went for a hike up Camelback Mountain in Phoenix, Buttaro wrote.
According to Buttaro, Tramonte was born and raised in Saugus, Massachusetts, and had an active lifestyle that included trips to the gym every morning, weekly meal plans, and drinking lots of water. Buttaro wrote that because of this, there were “many inconsistencies” in the timeline and facts surrounding her death that “just don’t make any sense.”
The Phoenix Fire Department received a call at 1 p.m. from Dizdar, who said Tramonte was visiting from out of town and became “overheated” halfway up a trail on Camelback Mountain, according to McDade. Dizdar kept going on the hike while Tramonte turned around to return to the parking lot. But when he returned to the car, Tramonte’s stuff was there but she was not, McDade said.
According to Fortune, Dizdar told police that neither he nor Tramonte brought water on the hike. He said Tramonte decided to head back down and asked him to keep going to the top so he could take pictures and share them on her social media. They agreed to meet later at the car.
A 30-man rescue team searched the mountain, assisted by a helicopter, McDade said. Around 5 p.m. Tramonte was found off the trail, near a home on the northeast side of the mountain. She was unresponsive and pronounced dead.
McDade told The Daily Beast the trail is “highly technical” and that even physically fit people can find it challenging if conditions aren’t optimal. He noted that Friday’s temperature reached 105 degrees. From where Tramonte was found, McDade said, he believes she might have lost sight of the trail and headed toward nearby homes for help.
“Once you get off the trail you’re in trouble,” he said. “Now you’re just walking through the Sonoran Desert.”
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But Buttaro took aim at Dizdar, writing that he should have known better than to leave Tramonte alone given that he is a first responder. “He clearly has no regard for her safety,” she wrote.
When reached by The Daily Beast, Buttaro said she was aware of Dizdar’s history of police misconduct, but declined to comment further, citing the open investigation into Tramonte’s death. Attempts to reach Tramonte’s family for this story were unsuccessful.
According to internal Phoenix Police Department documents published by ABC 15 in 2020, Dizdar was previously disciplined and placed on a Maricopa County Attorney’s Office “Brady list” that tracks police officers with integrity concerns because of past misconduct. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told The Daily Beast that Dizdar is still on the list.
According to an internal investigation file, Dizdar was at a Sangria Lounge in Glendale, Arizona, in September 2009, when a Glendale police officer questioned him about an unnamed friend who allegedly had been assaulted earlier outside the bar.
Dizdar was not a witness to the assault, and identified himself as a Phoenix police officer, according to the report. But he provided a fake name and date of birth to the officer, according to the file. He also gave the officer the wrong number for the victim.
Before his next shift, Dizdar, according to the file, told his supervisor the truth about what happened, apologized, and cooperated with a Glendale detective investigating the assault.
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