Search Continues In Ventura County Mountains For Missing Firefig - KMSP-TV

Search Continues In Ventura County Mountains For Missing Firefighter

Posted: Updated:
Fillmore, CA -

(FOX 11 / AP) Authorities in Southern California on Wednesday resumed their search for a firefighter who went missing late last week in the Los Padres National Forest, after chasing his dog during a backpacking trip. Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Rob Davidson said searchers fanned out early Wednesday, looking in rugged terrain for 34-year-old Michael Herdman -- who was hiking with a friend near the Tar Creek trail when he went running after his dog and disappeared. He was barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt at the time.

Officials said it took the friend two days to hike out of the area and alert authorities.

Rescuers in the air and on horseback are searching the mountains.

Herdman is a firefighter and paramedic with the Arcadia Fire Department.

Update From Hal Eisner:

Mike Herdman has been a firefighter for 7 years. Deputies say he's done a lot of biking, camping and backpacking. The Arcadia firefighter was prepared take on a popular trail for a backpacking trip in the Sespe Wilderness that started last Wednesday with his dog and another firefighter.

Ventura County Sheriff's Sgt Eric Buschow says "They had all the gear they needed for nights out in the woods and the whole deal."

It took two days to get to their campsite location. Then Friday night "all of a sudden his dog takes off down Sespe Creek."

It's dark and, Buschow says, "He didn't take his backpack with him when he ran off after the dog. That's the problem. So, when you're in your shorts and tee shirt and relaxing at camp you don't have your pack on."

Buschow says the backpack was found at the campsite Monday as were some prints consistent with someone who is barefoot. Tuesday brought more prints. More searching by air and on horseback in very challenging terrain. "For you and me, we'd go up that trail and it would take two days to where he was last seen."

Two days to get across the valley, up over the mountain and another 4 miles to the northwest. The fear is he may have been hurt in Sespe Creek which has big boulders and deep spots. Even with shoes Buschow says someone could be seriously injured in or along the creek. 

So, as the search drags on, Herdman's family and friends anxiously wait by the makeshift command post hoping for his safe return. The firefighter and his dog were expected home on Fathers Day. 

Buschow says at this point no foul play is suspected.

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