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Local News

Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue Team Assists Search for Missing Firefighter

The 36-year-old Arcadia man, last seen more than a week ago, had been camping in the Sespe Canyon area of remote Ventura County

Members of the Santa Barbara County Search & Rescue team traveled to Sespe Canyon in remote Ventura County over the weekend to help other crews from around the state search for a man who went missing more than a week ago while camping in the area.

On Saturday morning, SBCSAR team members were taken by helicopter into Sespe Canyon, just below the location where 36-year-old Arcadia city firefighter Mike Herdman was last seen on June 13, according to a statement from the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office.

Herdman was an experienced outdoorsman who had camped in the area before, and was two days into a four-day backpacking trip with a friend when he went missing. He left the campsite late in the night to chase after his dog, Duke. 

Herdman's camping partner, Arcadia firefighter-paramedic Tyler Byars, went to look for Herdman, but decided to go for help when he was unsuccessful. The journey out of the forest took him two days, and it was Byars' first camping trip.

Search crews found Herdman's dog on Sunday and were still combing the area for the man, even using aerial drones to canvass the backcountry.

Over the weekend, local search and rescue crews joined 90 other mountain rescue personnel from Ventura, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles and Orange counties in searching the rugged backcountry approximately 15 miles north of Fillmore, according to the statement.

Search and rescue crew members deployed from the helicopter while it hovered over several large boulders and had been unable to land because of the uneven ground.

"Once on the ground, an extensive search was conducted from wall to wall of the canyon up to their last known campsite," the statement said. "After completing their second helicopter deployment to search an area up the river from where Herdman was last seen, SBCSAR was airlifted back to the search command post and released to return to Santa Barbara."

The search for Herdman, while now scaled back, is continuing under the direction of the Ventura County Sheriff's Department.

Santa Barbara Search & Rescue Team Joins Search for Missing Firefighter in Ventura County from Noozhawk on Vimeo.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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