By Kellie Hall, Special to the Independent
A search is currently underway in the Los Padres National Forest for Mike Herdman, a 36-year-old off-duty Arcadia firefighter and paramedic.
Herdman graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1996 and his family still resides in town, though he has been with the Arcadia fire department since 2007.
Herdman went missing on Friday, June 13, after chasing his dog that had run off his campsite in the Sespe Wilderness area north of Fillmore in Ventura County. Herdman was barefoot, wearing only a t-shirt and shorts at the time and had no food or water with him. Herdman’s hiking partner, Taylor Byars, a fellow firefighter and paramedic, followed after him, but headed back to the camp at dark. After Herdman failed to return, Byars hiked out of the forest to look for help, a day-and-a half hike, according to a Los Angeles Times’ article.
Side-by-side barefoot prints and dog paw prints were found near a creek bed and Herdman’s backpack was also found Tuesday, according to Beth Stogner, a spokeswoman for the Arcadia Fire Department. Herdman’s dog, Duke, was found Wednesday afternoon in good condition several miles north of the campsite, Stogner reported.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s office began an air and ground search, which has since been expanded with units from Orange and Kern counties, and a canine unit, according to Ventura’s search and rescue unit.
The terrain is rugged and boulders and trees are making the search more difficult.