Body of Missing Ex-Laguna Man Found


By Kellie Hall, Special to the Independent

The body of Mike Herdman, a 36-year-old Arcadia firefighter and paramedic, was found in the Los Padres National Forest Friday, June 27, almost two weeks after being reported missing by fellow firefighter and paramedic, Taylor Byars, authorities said.

Herdman graduated from Laguna Beach High School in 1996 and his family still resides in town, though he had been with the Arcadia fire department since 2007.

Herdman, a husband and father, died after falling from a cliff, the Ventura County medical examiner’s office told the Los Angeles Times. His body was found less than a mile from where he was last seen. After being spotted by a helicopter in the very rough terrain of the forest, Herdman’s identity was confirmed by the medical examiner’s office through dental records, according to The Times.

Herdman went missing on Friday, June 13, after chasing his dog that had run from  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, Byars, 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.

Side-by-side barefoot prints and dog paw prints were found near a creek bed and Herdman’s backpack was also found Tuesday, June 17, according to Beth Stogner, a spokeswoman for the Arcadia Fire Department. Herdman’s dog, Duke, was captured, after being spotted several times, on Sunday, June 22.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s office conducted an air and ground search, which included units from Orange and Kern counties, and a canine unit, according to Ventura’s search and rescue unit. The search had been scaled back but a helicopter spotted an anomaly in the area, which turned out to be the body of Herdman.

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