TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. (KTLA) — The search for two teen hikers missing in Trabuco Canyon in the Cleveland National Forest is in its third day on Wednesday.
A limited search took place overnight Tuesday due to the darkness. The full search resumed at daylight.
Nicholas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, contacted authorities via cellphone around 8:30 p.m. Sunday asking for help.
They told deputies they believed they were about a mile from their car, but they couldn’t find their way back.
Authorities have located their car, a green BMW, but so far have not been able to locate the hikers.
Their cellphone battery died before authorities were able to get an accurate GPS location for the pair.
At around 4 a.m. on Wednesday, search volunteer Don Morrison said he and some others noticed nine to 12 tiny sparks — light from a cigarette lighter.
They called the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, which sent out two units.
They didn’t see the light when they arrived, but authorities believe it is a positive sign. They were planning to focus the airship on that area after daybreak.
Hundreds of friends and family have turned out to join in the search for Cendoya and Jack.
Search and rescue vans full of people arrived at the command post on Tuesday, including dozens of teenagers.
A Facebook page called Costa Mesa Search Party has since been created, with many posting to coordinate rides to the trail head.
More than 50 search and rescue crews with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and the O.C. Fire Authority searched on foot and in the air.
Even strangers have pitched in to help, hiking through the steep terrain crowded with thick brush and trees.
Crews found clothing items on the trail — a bandana and a pair of jeans — but it was determined they don’t belong to the missing hikers.
A clue more promising — investigators say a K9 unit picked up a scent near Holy Jim Canyon.
Search crews have since concentrated their efforts in that area. Authorities say they believe the teens are still alive.
“I believe they took a detour, I believe they did get off the trail and that’s where the trouble started,” said Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Erin Guidice.
“The growing concern would be that they have injured themselves and they are under the tree cover and we’re unable to find them by air.”
Orange County officials are spearheading the search, with help from Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties.
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the teenagers is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000.