FILLMORE (CBSLA.com) — A search resumed Tuesday for an off-duty Arcadia firefighter and paramedic who went missing last week while on a backpacking trip outside of Fillmore, officials said.
Michael Herdman, 36, and fellow firefighter/paramedic Taylor Byars hiked to Tar Creek Trail and set up camp along the Sespe Creek on Friday evening when Herdman’s dog ran away.
Herdman, who was barefoot and wearing shorts and a T-shirt, along with Byars, ran after the dog.
A short time later, the two men became separated, authorities said.
Byars made his way back to the campsite, but Herdman, a seven-year firefighter veteran, and his dog, Duke, never returned.
Byars searched for Herdman for nearly two days before he made his way out of the wilderness and reported his friend missing Sunday evening.
Deputies said it took a long time for Byars to report what happened because the camp was so far out.
Investigators said there are no signs of foul play.
“We had investigators talk to [Byars], as well … to go over those details. And everything he’s told us has checked out so far,” sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow said.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Division deployed almost 50 crews on foot and horseback in the search through steep, rugged and dangerous terrain. Helicopters were also being utilized.
KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple reports that crews found the encampment with Herdman’s belongings still there.
“We located Mr. Herdman’s backpack and we also found some footprints indicating his direction of travel down the creek,” Buschow said.
Herdman’s wife spent Tuesday at the search and rescue command post. Several other family members and friends also showed up to show their support.
“The things [Herdman] has going for him is he’s in good physical shape. He’s been in the backcountry before, he’s experienced the outdoors, he’s a firefighter, he has medic training,” Buschow said.
Arcadia Fire Department Deputy Chief Mike Lang said everyone is worried.
“Late nights, no sleep, just worrying about him and what he’s going through out there,” he said.