Missing California Firefighter's Backpack, Footprints Found

PHOTO: Rescue crews are searching in Californias Los Padres National Park for Mike Herdman, 34, who went missing during a camping trip.
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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.

Barefoot, wearing only a T-shirt and shorts, Herdman simply disappeared, according to Byars. Ventura County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Eric Buschow said search crews are following clues into Herdman’s disappearance.

“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.

PHOTO: Rescue crews are searching in Californias Los Padres National Park for Mike Herdman, 34, who went missing during a camping trip.
KABC
PHOTO: Rescue crews are searching in California's Los Padres National Park for Mike Herdman, 34, who went missing during a camping trip.

The region’s remote, inaccessible terrain has made the search especially daunting. The campsite where Herdman was last spotted is a two-day hike into the back country, an area that’s almost twice the size of the Grand Canyon.

Simply reporting Herdman missing was difficult. It took Byars all weekend to hike out and call for help.

Herdman, who has a 6-year-old daughter, had planned to be home for Father’s Day. Instead, his wife and friends – including fellow firefighters – have spent two agonizing days at the trailhead, hoping for answers, hoping for a miracle.

At this point, there’s no indication of foul play, Buschow said.

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