36 Year Old Off-Duty Arcadia Firefighter Michael Herdman Missing Since 6/13/14 While Hiking in Mountains North of Filmore in Ventura County, CA (Update: Dog Matching the Mkie’s Dog Duke Description was Spotted Wednesday)(Update: Mike Herdman’s Dog Duke Found Safe)


36 year old off-duty  Arcadia firefighter Michael Herdman went missing Friday night, June 13, 2014 while hiking in the rugged mountains of Ventura county in the Sespe Wilderness area north of Filmore, California. According to Capt. Mike Franke of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Herdman took off after the dog on Friday while he was hiking with a friend to Tar Creek Trail Head, which is off a dirt road in the Topatopa Mountains. Herdman was barefoot and wearing only shorts and a T-shirt when he was last seen by his friend, Taylor Byars. Herdman also had no food and no water with him.

 Michael Herdman

Missing Michael Herdman - click on pic to watch KCAL 9 VIDEO

UPDATE I: The Search continues for missing Michael Herdman:

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 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.

Byars made his way back to the campsite, but Herdman, a seven-year firefighter veteran, and his dog, Duke, never returned.

Michael Herdman_map

Map – screen grab from KCAL video above

UPDATE II: Missing California Firefighter’s Backpack, Footprints Found.

Rescuers scouring a rugged corner of California hoping to find missing firefighter have found the man’s backpack and footprints leading away from his camp.

Mike Herdman, 34, an avid outdoorsman, was on a weekend camping trip in the Los Padres National Forest with his buddy, fellow firefighter Taylor Byars. Byars told authorities he last saw his friend on Friday chasing after his dog Duke, which had run into a creek.

“We found his backpack. We found footprints in the directions that he was last seen going. So we are starting from there and working our way out methodically, rock by rock and bush by bush,” Buschow said.

UPDATE III: Dog Matching Pet’s Description Seen.

As efforts continued to locate a firefighter who went missing after chasing after his dog during a backpacking trip in the Los Padres National Forest, a canine matching the pet’s description was spotted Wednesday.

The sighting of the dog by search teams offered hope that Michael Herdman, a seven-year veteran of the Arcardia Fire Department, was alive in the mountain about Fillmore.

“We are all expecting to see Mike come over the hill behind us and be surprised to see us all here,” said family friend Mike MacGregor.

UPDATE IV: Helicopter in Search for Missing Firefighter Grounded by Private Drone Interference.

Civilian searchers with good intentions were arriving to aid the professional effort to find Mike Herdman, 36, but were ill prepared for the wilderness,  Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Buschow said.

Additionally, a helicopter that had been used in the search was grounded because a private party had launched a drone into the search area, Buschow said.

“It is absolutely illegal to fly anything back here other than our operation that’s going on now,” he said.

It was not clear how long the helicopter was grounded for.

UPDATE V: Searchers Find Dog of Missing California Firefighter.

Search crews have located the dog of missing California firefighter Mike Herdman more than a week after he went missing in a national forest north of Los Angeles.

Officials said the dog, named Duke, was “exhausted” but in good shape. Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean said there was no sign of Herdman and that the search would scale down starting tonight.

Duke_Facebook_Arcadia Fire Department

Duke – Facebook

Update 2:24 p.m.: Search crews find missing firefighter’s dog.

Search crews looking for a missing Arcadia Fire Department say they’ve found the dog he went after when he left his camp ground, shoeless and without his gear. They still haven’t located Herdman himself, however.

The Arcadia Fire Department’s union posted a photo of the dog, named Duke, on their Facebook page Sunday afternoon.

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  • Comments

    12 Responses to “36 Year Old Off-Duty Arcadia Firefighter Michael Herdman Missing Since 6/13/14 While Hiking in Mountains North of Filmore in Ventura County, CA (Update: Dog Matching the Mkie’s Dog Duke Description was Spotted Wednesday)(Update: Mike Herdman’s Dog Duke Found Safe)”

    1. Waterboy on June 19th, 2014 9:40 pm

      Investigate the friend. The answer is there.

    2. Thomas Elsbury on June 19th, 2014 11:41 pm

      Wildlife Biologist Tj Elsbury
      Given all the information as of this morning I’m inclined to think the dog went running off because it saw or smelled a mountain lion..Being there’s hardly any deer left–due to hunting them in the rut- the lion, seeing the dog was not that large, stopped to attack the dog. Next along came Mike and the cat killed him and carted off his carcass either to bury it or possibly to its den to feed it’s kittens. Now given the last information surfacing: the dog was spotted still alive this does not fit the scenario I just described. A best friend unlike a woman would fight to the death to protect its owner! There ‘s only one exception to this concept==if the dog is to small and physically incapable of winning it eventually will retreat.

    3. Jacob B. on June 27th, 2014 6:35 pm

      It’s unlikely that his Labrador ran off at night (and somehow, made its way 12 miles back to the same exact parking lot where the search started).

      It’s even more unlikely that barefoot, Herdman was able to scale a “1,200 foot mountain” in the dark.

      For a weekend hike, I’m surprised that it took his friend 2 days to find his way back.

      My crazy hypothesis:

      They got into a fight, the friend accidentally killed him, he spent the next morning scaling the mountain, left him there, walked the dog back over to the parking lot, needed an excuse as to how it happened (why Herdman “ran off”), released his dog, and bam. The rest is in the news.

    4. Missing California Firefighter Michael Herdman Found Dead One Mile Away From Where He was Last Seen Alive | Scared Monkeys on June 28th, 2014 7:58 am

      [...] a positive ID was made but it is not yet been determined what caused the firefighters death.  Herdman was last seen Friday, June 13 on a cliff above the Sespe River in rugged terrain of the Los Padres National [...]

    5. lee on June 29th, 2014 12:15 pm

      does Taylor Byars knows Mchael Herdman’s wife?
      is Byars now is her side to comfort her? Does he like Herdman’s wife?

      Who initial the trip?
      In the State of Vermont, normally November season deer hunting season, murder invitation to victim, no witness.

    6. lee on June 29th, 2014 12:28 pm

      Normally people bare foot inside the house or swim pool or take a shower. or set bare foot on nice flat clean floor of enjoyment.

      Who will bare foot in the mountain?

      Stage the murder case. die body can not speak for himself.
      Dog only bark can not speak any words.

      fight for the water supply. Now Michael Herdman die,

      Who will have more answer? only Taylor Byars.

      What does he do for living? Taylor Byars.

      How long did they know each others?

      They must know each others well otherwise will not go of

      National Park Trips. Are they Homosexual partnership?

    7. lee on June 29th, 2014 12:32 pm

      contact true crime author asap.

      Trust is turf words.

      Michael Herdman has good job, young wife, and daughter, he must also has house.

      What is Taylor Bears financial information?

    8. Skeptic1 on June 30th, 2014 4:29 pm

      The first time I noticed this story on yahoo I read it and said. “bulls–t”. I have kept up with the story through today and every day I say “bulls–t” a little louder. I have never heard a story as hard to believe in my life. It may be a factual story, but I find it difficult to believe any aspect of it. I hope LE really investigates this death. This story stinks of something rotten gone wrong.

    9. testing on July 1st, 2014 11:01 pm

      Taylor Byars has pics of himself on his Facebook page rock climbing. Coincidince?

    10. testing on July 1st, 2014 11:05 pm

      Coincidence that Byars looks to be an avid rock climber?

    11. tj on July 3rd, 2014 10:22 am

      I’m a hiker and backpacker and know that range relatively well although not the area that he was found.

      This entire story has smelled from the very beginning. From the lack of boots to the night hike in that terrain to the not keeping in vocal contact with your partner. Nope.

      And when the Sheriff said they didn’t look where the body was found because they didn’t think it plausible that anyone could get there, in the dark with no boots, that was it for me. You can’t tell me experienced SAR guys wouldn’t have looked in an area less than a mile from the camp unless they thought it was out of the question that he could get there.

      What they’re saying went down is not what went down. And I’ll bet if you asked the SAR guys and the other authorities involved in the search and recovery they’d tell you the same thing.

    12. Tim2openyoureyes on July 8th, 2014 7:47 am

      NOTICE: Please listen up on David Paulides on Youtube who explains how this hiker may have died. You will be amazed, GUARANTEED. Michael Herdman’s case is identical to many of his cases. If you think you’re smart and you know it all… you don’t know until YOU LISTEN. It will CREEP YOU OUT.

      David Paulides looks into many cases that are:

      near a Creek
      inside national parks
      with a Dog
      found dead at extraordinary distance barefoot, where searchers won’t look
      often Caucasian
      often an avid hiker
      dog returns safety/healthy days later
      no signs of foul play

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