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Firefighter Who Disappeared On Camping Trip Likely Died After Falling From A Cliff

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Mike Herdman, the Arcadia firefighter who was found dead in Los Padres National Forest last week after he went missing on a camping trip two weeks earlier, was most likely killed in a fall from a cliff just days before his rescue.The Ventura County medical examiner's office said today that Herman's cause of death was blunt force trauma, which was the result of a significant fall, L.A. Times reports. It appears that Herdman fell while climbing, possibly at night, though it's not clear why he would have tried to make that climb. Medical examiners say Herdman died a few days before he was found.

Herdman, 36, was camping with his friend, fellow firefighter Taylor Byars, and his dog in the Fillmore area of Los Padres National Forest. When Herdman’s dog ran away on June 13, the two chased after it but were eventually separated. It took Byars two days to hike out of the forest and get help.

An extensive search for Herdman went on for days and four rescuers were injured, including an assistant fire chief who was bitten by a rattlesnake. They recovered Herdman’s backpack, and the dog showed up dehydrated.

On June 27, one of the remaining search crews took a helicopter near cliffs by Sespe Creek. Although this location was less than a mile from the campsite, rescuers would not have looked there because they were more concentrated on areas where it was likely someone could survive. The pilot spotted what looked like a black sleeping bag, but on closer inspection turned out to be Herdman, who had been wearing a black T-shirt when he disappeared.