ARCADIA (CBSLA.com) — The agonizing two week search for a missing Arcadia firefighter became more upsetting Friday with the report that his body had been found.
Officials said the body of Michael Herdman was found in the Sepse Wilderness, near Fillmore.
The 36-year-old was beloved by his fellow firefighters and Brittney Hopper spoke to many of Herdman’s friends and colleagues.
She reported, “It’s been an emotional day here at the Arcadia fire station. The flag is at half staff and people have been coming by leaving flowers and notes.”
Herdman was a husband, father and seven year veteran of the Arcadia Fire Department.
“We’re devastated, losing Mike. A member of our family. We’re just sad,” said Kurt Norwood, the fire chief.
Herdman reportedly ran off to catch up with his dog. He was last seen wearing board shorts, a t-shirt and was barefoot at the time. The canine, Duke, was found alive several days ago, 12 miles from Herdman’s body.
Herdman had been backpacking in rugged terrain. Search crews spent days by ground and air looking for him, or any sign of him.
“There’s so many questions. It’s hard to say if he tried to go up the hill that night or the next day to try and get somewhere where he could be seen,” said Norwood.
Herdman was backpacking with his good friend and fellow firefighter Taylor Byars whose father told Hopper, off camera, that it’s been an incredibly sad day for Taylor and his family.
Deputies say they do not suspect foul play.
At a press conference, they said, “We will look at everything — an unbiased review to determine the cause of death.”
The Arcadia Fire Department says they never gave up hope that they would see Mike walk into the station again.
“We wanted to see Mike, well, so obviously the men and women of the department have some heavy hearts today,” Norwood added.
The medical examiner will determine Herdman’s exact cause of death.