Body of Missing California Firefighter Found - NBC Bay Area

Body of Missing California Firefighter Found

Mike Herdman, 36, disappeared Friday, June 13 during a camping trip in the Los Padres National Forest near Fillmore with a friend and fellow firefighter.



    Hope Turns to Sorrow in Firefighter Search

    Colleagues mourned the loss of Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman after officials found his body in the wilderness after a more than week-long search in steep, rugged terrain. Beverly White reports for the NBC4 News at 11 p.m. Friday, June 27, 2014. (Published Friday, June 27, 2014)

    The body of missing Arcadia firefighter Mike Herdman was found, officials said Friday.

    The body was found less than a mile from where he was last seen Friday, June 13 on a cliff above the Sespe River in rugged terrain of the Los Padres National Forest, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

    Herdman's body was discovered at 10 a.m. Friday by a pilot flying overhead as part of the search team. The body lay over terrain and was partially covered by brush.

    There were no signs of foul play, Dean said.

    "Our sympathies and hearts go out to Mike Herdman’s family, the public and the fellow firefighters at the Arcadia Fire Department," Dean said during an afternoon press conference.

    Officials identified the remains through dental records. A cause of death would be determined by the medical examiner following an autopsy.

    Investigators theorized that Herdman had fallen off a cliff at night, but they weren't sure.

    "He’s probably the only one that can answer those questions about why’d he'd go so far in the middle of the night like that," he said.

    The mood at the Arcadia Fire Department was somber where officials have set up a web page for donations.

    "We're glad that he was found, but at the same time we're sad that we lost a family member," said Arcadia Fire Chief Kurt Norwood. "Mike was, is a I mean, just a joy to work with. Very outgoing, loved to stir the pot."

    Herdman, 36, disappeared Friday, June 13 during a camping trip in the Los Padres National Forest near Fillmore with a friend and fellow firefighter Taylor Byars.

    His dog, Duke, ran away from the campsite and Herdman chased after him, barefoot and wearing just a T-shirt and shorts.

    He was reported missing when Byars emerged from the forest and contacted authorities.

    Duke was found June 23 in a parking lot where Herdman's car had been parked. Much of the search focused on finding Duke, who had been spotted twice in a week.

    Authorities combed through a 50-square mile radius in the Los Padres National Forest. At one point as many as 86 search and rescue volunteers had been looking for Herdman. Two manned flight crews and two drones were used to search the rugged terrain.

    Several Southern California sheriff’s departments and a team of special agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are also involved.

    Officials said that Herdman was an outdoors enthusiast with experience backpacking in the backcountry.

    NBC4's Beverly White and Rosa Ordaz contributed to this report.