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Published: Friday, 6/27/2014

Body of missing firefighter found in California wilderness after exhaustive search

ASSOCIATED PRESS

FILLMORE, Calif. — A California firefighter who disappeared after chasing after his dog during a backpacking trip was found dead Friday, authorities said.

The body of Mike Herdman, 36, was found in a rugged cliff area about a ¾ mile and 1200 feet above the river bottom where he was last seen on June 13, Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said.

Herdman and a friend were backpacking in Los Padres National Forest river bottom when his dog, named Duke, ran off. The firefighter chased after his pet barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt.

Herdman’s friend made his way back to a trailhead on June 15 to alert authorities, setting off a large-scale search. Dean said search crews put in about 5,000 hours and scoured 50 squared miles on foot, horseback and by air — including the use of two drones.

Firefighters at the Arcadia Fire Department, a suburb east of Los Angeles, looked for Herdman for more than a week, Fire Chief Kurt Norwood told KABC-TV.

“We’re glad that he was found but at the same time we’re sad that we lost a family member, so obviously we got heavy hearts here,” Chief Kurt Norwood said.

Duke was spotted twice during the search but eluded capture. A hiker spotted the exhausted dog Sunday in the parking lot where Herdman had parked his car.


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