Travel Nurse Practitioner Who Disappeared on Hike Found Dead

Derick Alison
Derick Alison
3 Min Read

Ann Herford, FNP, a traveling nurse practitioner from Michigan who went missing while hiking in California last month, was found dead on Thursday, according to authorities.

Herford, 66, had last been seen on November 12 near the trailhead for the Arnold Rim Trail in Arnold, California. Her car remained parked at the site, triggering a weeks-long search in the area for her whereabouts.

According to a Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office press release, she was found dead on Thursday on a “sloped hillside beneath heavy tree canopy and dense foliage,” north of where her vehicle had been originally parked. Herford’s body was located outside the trail system after efforts expanded to include “searches by air and ground in the dense forest of tall trees, thick manzanita, and mountainous terrain.”

Her “tragic death is not suspicious,” the sheriff’s office stated.

“We think at this point that this was strictly an accident,” Sgt. Chad Poortinga, of the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office, had previously told MedPage Today.

In January 2021, Herford’s husband Don, a farmer who owned a transmission repair business, passed away. The couple had married in 1977 and enjoyed “many traveling adventures” together, according to Don’s obituary.

Joe Fibranz, a family friend, told the Huron Daily Tribune that working as a travel nurse practitioner helped Herford cope with the loss of her husband. “She’s a really kind, hard-working person,” he told the Tribune in the days after her disappearance. “She’s like a mother to me.”

Herford cared for patients in different areas of Michigan and also worked on a Native American reservation in the Southwest for a time, Fibranz said. She was an avid hiker, he noted, and California might have been her favorite place to visit.

Brandon Neal, Herford’s nephew, often hiked with his aunt, and told Sacramento’s KCRA that she loved going hiking and exploring new places.

On November 14, Herford failed to show up for work at Adventist Health in Sonora, California, and colleagues reported her missing the following day.

Co-worker Anna Wettengel called Herford “amazing.” She told KCRA that at their first meeting, Herford had “the biggest smile on her face … She was super excited to come in and help out any way she could.”

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    Shannon Firth has been reporting on health policy as MedPage Today’s Washington correspondent since 2014. She is also a member of the site’s Enterprise & Investigative Reporting team. Follow

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