The body of an Arcadia firefighter who has been missing for two weeks in a remote, rugged area of the Los Padres National Forest was found, authorities said Friday, according to KTLA.
Mike Herdman, 36, had last been seen June 13 by a firefighter colleague and friend whom he was camping with in the Sespe Wilderness. The pair chased after Herdman’s runaway dog, Duke, but they were separated and Herdman did not return to camp, KTLA reports.
He was barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. It took Herdman’s friend Taylor Byars two days to walk out of the wilderness and alert authorities.
The discovery of Herdman’s body was announced at a news conference about 4 p.m. Friday at Camarillo Airport, Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Dan Aguilar said.
The search for Herdman began June 16 and involved multiple agencies, including the Montrose Search and Rescue, with up to 75 people searching every day during the peak effort, authorities said. Helicopters and drones were also used in the search.
At least four searchers were injured, including an assistant fire chief sent to intensive care with a rattlesnake bite.
Rescuers found only Herdman’s footprints and backpack.
On Sunday, Duke was found hungry and dehydrated, but Herdman remained missing.
“That critical time, that time where we believe he is still alive, has gone by,” Aguilar said Monday, according to the Pasadena Star-News. “It’s tough to survive out there past a week. We’ve given a good push on this and covered a lot of area and haven’t come up with much at all.”
The search was scaled back to an aerial-only operation in recent days, but a group from Herdman’s Arcadia firefighters’ union searched on foot in the mountains above Fillmore, the union stated on its Facebook page.
Four people were on the ground Thursday, Aguilar told the Pasadena Star-News, saying efforts would continue Friday.
A seven-year veteran of the Arcadia Fire Department, Herdman is survived by a wife and young daughter. He lived in Dana Point, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
He was on a four-day backpacking trip with Byars when he disappeared. Friends said he was very physically fit and has extensive backcountry experience.
-- Melissa Pamer, KTLA