Santa Clarita Deputies, Volunteers Help Fillmore Search For Arcadia Firefighter
Video courtesy of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station
The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station Search and Rescue Team is one of several groups seeking an off-duty Arcadia firefighter who disappeared Friday in the Fillmore area, officials said Thursday.
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Mike Herdman, 36, an experienced hiker, was in the Fillmore area of the Los Padres National Forest and separated from his friend, another off-duty firefighter with whom he was camping.
“They were intending on going on a four-day backpacking trip (Friday),” said Sgt. Eric Buschow of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department. “By Friday night, Mike Herdman’s dog took off running down a creek.”
Herdman took off barefoot, without his pack, to chase down his dog, according to his friend who was a less-experienced hiker, Buschow said.
The friend eventually headed back to safety after not hearing from Herdman, Buschow said
“The other gentleman was able to walk out, but it took him two days (to get from their campsite),” Buschow said. The lost hiker who made his way back was not identified by Sheriff’s Department officials.
He encountered two fisherman on his way out who told officials they probably saved the man’s life, because he was dehydrated and exhausted when he found them Sunday.
The incident was reported to the Sheriff’s Department after the lost hiker was able to attain cellphone service.
By Thursday morning, Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Teams were joined by volunteer search team deputies from Santa Clarita Valley, San Luis Obispo, Crescenta Valley and even the Department of Homeland Security.
The federal agency used unmanned drone aircraft to search the area for Herdman.
The rescue effort spotted the dog Wednesday, said Tony Buttita, a member of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Search and Rescue Team.
However, the dog was “skittish,” he said, and ran away when approached.
Herdman’s wife was on scene Wednesday, and officials hoped she might be able to help relocate the dog, and subsequently, Herdman.
“From where I stand, at the command post, it’s a two-day walk just to get where he disappeared,” Buschow said, adding that while the location was remote, temperatures were relatively mild and there was a water supply in the area. “We’re inserting teams in places where he was last seen -- we’re helicoptering them in, or the search would take forever.”
Sheriff’s Station officials continue to search the area as of noon Thursday.
The volunteers and deputies are trying to remain optimistic and focused on the search, said Buttita, a 14-year member of the Search and Rescue Team.
“This guy is kind of young,” he said. “and I’ve seen miracles.”
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