TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. (KTLA) — One of two teen hikers missing in Trabuco Canyon is recovering in the hospital after being found alive, while the search continues for his companion.
There were cheers from family and friends when searchers found 19-year-old Nicholas Cendoya around 8 p.m Wednesday.
Authorities got a tip from hikers in the area who made contact with a training team from the Orange County Fire Authority.
They indicated where they believed they had found Nicholas, and that team was able to coordinate with their airship to rescue him.
Officials said the area where Nicholas was found had extremely dense brush, said Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Jason Park.
Rescuers who were lowered from the airship had to cut through the brush, and said the level of visibility was less than 10 feet on the ground.
Cendoya was disoriented and confused, and was wearing only board shorts, with no shirt.
He was airlifted to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he was listed in stable condition.
Meantime, the active search continues 18-year-old Kyndall Jack, who has now spent four nights out in the elements.
“Our mission will start directly in the area of where we found Nicholas yesterday,” Park said Thursday morning. “We have personnel moving out to those locations in a variety of ways.”
Authorities said they hoped to have three airships up scouring the area once conditions cleared.
They will also be using search dogs, which they think might be their best bet to find Kyndall in the thick brush.
“It’s reasonable that they would be disoriented, that they’d get separated,” Park said. “Since we found Nicholas, we’re optimistic that we’re going to find Kyndall.”
Cendoya told authorities he thought they had been separated possibly since Sunday night, but he has no recollection about how they got separated.
When Nicholas was found, he said believed Kyndall had already been rescued. Authorities also said the pair had only brought one bottle of water.
Officials were asking the public to stay out of the area to avoid complicating search dogs’ efforts to track Kyndall’s scent.
The search began on Sunday night, after the Costa Mesa teenagers contacted authorities via cellphone around 8:30 p.m. asking for help.
They told deputies they believed they were about a mile from their car, but they couldn’t find their way back.
Their cellphone battery died before authorities were able to get an accurate GPS location for the pair. Authorities subsequently located their green BMW.
The location where Nicholas was found was about a half-mile from the car.
Hundreds of friends and family have turned out to join in the search for Cendoya and Jack. Even strangers have pitched in to help.
A Facebook page called Costa Mesa Search Party was created, with many posting to coordinate rides to the trail head.
Orange County officials were spearheading the search, with help from Los Angeles, Riverside and San Diego counties.
Anyone with information on the Kyndall Jack’s whereabouts is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at (714) 647-7000.