FILLMORE (CBSLA.com) — Crews say they’re increasing their search efforts for an off-duty Arcadia firefighter and paramedic who went missing last week while on a backpacking trip outside Fillmore.
Searchers Thursday used a small, unmanned plane to look for Michael Herdman. They say it was the second day in a row that they’ve spotted the missing man’s dog, Duke, but the animal once again gave them the slip.
The 36-year-old was hiking Friday with fellow firefighter/paramedic Taylor Byars at Tar Creek Trail and set up camp along the Sespe Creek when Herdman’s dog ran away.
Byars and Herdman, who was barefoot, 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 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.
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Division have spent every day since searching the area for signs of the firefighter and his dog.
They found the encampment with Herdman’s backpack and belongings still there. They also found his footsteps leading to the creek.
Investigators said there were no signs of foul play.
After crews reportedly saw Duke on Wednesday, they took Michael Herdman’s wife into the rugged terrain to try and retrieve the dog, but were unsuccessful.
“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,” sheriff’s Sgt. Eric Buschow said.’