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Two Missing O.C. Hikers Rescued

missing-hikers19-year-old Nicholas Cendoya and 18-year-old Kyndall Jack were rescued separately days after they went missing while hiking in the Trabuco Canyon area of Orange County.

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SANTA ANA, Calif. (KTLA) — A hiker recently rescued from being lost in an Orange County wilderness along with a friend, was in court Wednesday to face drug charges.

In another twist, a volunteer hurt during the search wanted thousands of dollars for medical bills.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KTLA) — Orange County officials announced Wednesday they will not seek repayment of the $160,000 spent rescuing two Costa Mesa hikers.

The county does not have the legal authority to seek reimbursement, according to Supervisor Shawn Nelson.

The Sheriff’s Department had earlier considering billing the two hikers for the cost of the massive search effort in Trabuco Canyon.

hiker-thumbs-upThis, after one of the hikers, 19-year-old Nicholas Cendoya, was charged with possession of methamphetamine.

Orange County Sheriff’s officials confirmed to KTLA that the drug was found in Cendoya’s car, which was parked at the trail-head in Cleveland National Forest.

Officials also revealed that Cendoya and his hiking partner, Kyndall Jack, admitted to using what they thought was cocaine before their hike.

The massive, five-day search for the two hikers began on Easter Sunday.

It cost the department $160,000 to mount the emergency response which involved multiple agencies and resulted in a serious injury to one of the rescuers, who fell 60 feet.

Some officials believed the couple should have to pay restitution.

“They set a whole series of events in motion that have now cost tons of money the taxpayers, injuries to a deputy sheriff,” said O.C. Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

A criminal charge of drug possession was filed against Cendoya.

He was set to appear in court in Santa Ana on May 22.

ORANGE, Calif. — The two Costa Mesa hikers lost for days in Trabuco Canyon will not be billed for the intense search that led to their rescue from the south Orange County wilderness.

missing-hikersThe search, which included agencies from Orange, Ventura, Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, was launched Easter Sunday and lasted five days before the second of the hikers was rescued.

Kyndall Jack, 18, and Nicolas Cendoya, 19, had set off on what was to be a day hike before leaving the trail and becoming lost in the thick brush and rugged hillsides, officials said.

Cendoya was located April 3, shoeless and disoriented. Jack was discovered the following day in shoulder-high brush.

Both were hospitalized and later described a harrowing ordeal in the wilderness, during which they became so dehydrated that they began hallucinating.

Neither teen will be billed for the rescue efforts, according to Gail Krause, public relations manager for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.

A cost figure for the rescue has not been released.

Cendoya and Jack could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

An OCSD reserve deputy who fell 60 feet during Jack’s rescue is now in good condition and undergoing rehabilitation and physical therapy, Krause said.

Those who wish to contribute to his recovery can make donations to Project 999 at P.O. Box 241, Santa Ana, Calif., 92702. Project 999 supports injured or killed officers and their family members in Orange County, Krause said.

-Los Angeles Times

ORANGE, Calif. — Days after her dramatic rescue from a brush-covered ledge, Kyndall Jack — the 18-year-old hiker who was missing for four days — is now home safe with her family.

kyndall-jackJack talked about her ordeal as she was released from UC Irvine Medical Center on Monday.

She said memories of her time lost in the south Orange County hills are fleeting.

She recalled hallucinations, fending off animals and crying when she and her parents reunited.

“I honestly didn’t know I was missing,” she told reporters. “I didn’t know I was gone. I thought it was a dream.”

In front of the hospital, resting in a wheelchair, she explained that she had injured her hand during the ordeal.

She held up her hand to demonstrate its limited mobility and lifted her sweatpants to show her left leg, covered in scrapes, cuts and bruises.

She said she was “still in a lot of pain, but it’s getting better.”

Jack and her friend, 19-year-old Nicolas Cendoya, went to the Holy Jim Canyon area on Easter Sunday for what was to be a day hike.

They became lost after they wandered from the trail and the darkness set in. The pair, she said, had only brought three small water bottles with them.

She said she carried a backpack that had a lighter, her cellphone, glasses and keys.

After getting lost, she said she began having panic attacks and vomited.

By the first evening, she said the two of them began hallucinating, presumably because of dehydration. At one point, she said she believed she was being attacked by a python.

When Cendoya was going in and out of consciousness, she said she was scared. “I told him not to close his eyes,” she said.

Her only memories from that point were fighting off an animal (she could not say what kind), trying to use her lighter to “light the sky” and signal for help, and finding her way to the rock where she was found.

She said she was grateful for those who rescued her and hoped to thank them in person. They offered the help, she said, she feared would not come.

“I definitely gave up hope,” she said. ” There were definitely sometimes I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

She said she has talked to Cendoya since the rescue, hoping to piece together their recollections, but the effort had proved futile.

“We told each other we were in different dreams,” she said.

Jack said that she is excited to return home and looks forward to getting back to her normal life.

– Courtesy: L.A. Times

Nicolas Cendoya, the 19-year-old college student rescued last week after getting lost while hiking with a friend in Trabuco Canyon, on Sunday offered his first detailed public account of the ordeal.

Cendoya said he and Kyndall Jack, 18, realized they were in trouble as night began falling during a lengthy and poorly planned Easter Sunday hike in the Santa Ana Mountains.

cendoyaBy then their water bottle was nearly empty, and he was shirtless and drenched in sweat from an arduous climb.

In the darkness, they couldn’t find their way out of an area surrounded by cliffs and sharp brush.

They called an emergency operator to say they were lost, but the cellphone battery died after the call.

After waiting a while for a helicopter, Cendoya said, he looked at Jack and told her, “It is pitch black…. If we don’t get out of here, we are going to die.”

Cendoya described grabbing Jack and trying to carry her through the brush in a desperate bid to get back to a road where his car was parked. Somehow, though, he fell and hit his head.

“I was just out, unconscious,” Cendoya said, speaking briefly to reporters after being discharged Sunday from Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo.

“I can’t even tell you when I woke up…. [Afterward] I was in lucid dreams, lucid hallucinations, every single day.”

He recalled that after the fall, Jack begged him to keep his eyes open, and he speculated she may have thought he had died. He wasn’t sure how the two became separated.

Asked how he managed to survive, Cendoya remembered eating plants and leaning on his faith and his memories of a friend who had recently died.

He said his hallucinations were vivid. He thought he was “in the afterlife” and grew so convinced he was being stalked by predators that he grabbed a sharp stick for defense.

He thought he saw Jack get rescued, though, it turned out, he had no idea where she was, and she wasn’t rescued until the day after he was found.

Cendoya was rescued Wednesday night. He was so weak by then, he said, that he wasn’t sure he could have survived another night.

“When the firefighters came up, I didn’t believe it,” he said, adding that his hallucinations had him convinced that the firefighters were yet “another fake.”

After being treated at the hospital for dehydration, cuts and head and neck trauma, Cendoya said that he can’t wait to see Jack again and that the two have corresponded via social media since her rescue.

Jack remains at UC Irvine Medical Center, where she is also being treated for dehydration and injuries.

Cendoya also thanked the scores of people involved in the rescue operation, especially the reserve sheriff’s deputy who suffered a severe head injury after plunging down a hillside while trying to reach Jack.

-Los Angeles Times

HIKERIRVINE, Calif. (KTLA) — One of the two Orange County hikers who went missing for several days last week in Trabuco Canyon was released from the hospital Sunday.

Nicolas Cendoya, 19, recovered at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif. after becoming lost with his friend, 18-year-old Kyndall Jack, on Easter Sunday.

Jack remains hospitalized and is listed in good condition, but Cendoya walked out of the hospital on his own.

He reportedly lost 15 pounds during his three-day, three-night ordeal in the Cleveland National Forest, and doctors say he had some blunt force trauma to his chest from a fall.

Cendoya also suffered a concussion. Doctors say if he spent another night in the wilderness, he may not have made it out alive.

The teen said he saw helicopters above him the whole time, but after going so long without food or water, he didn’t know what was real.

“The last thing I could tell you is going into a lucid dream,” he told reporters after leaving the hospital.

“I had no idea I had suffered trauma in a fall. So my perspective is I fell and I just was out, unconscious. I can’t even tell you when I woke up.”

Cendoya issued a statement Friday, thanking those involved in their rescue.

“I want to thank all those who never stopped trying to find me and Kyndall, especially Amanda and her friends who were the ones to find me.

“To my parents, friends and family — so many supporters I didn’t even know I had. Thanks to all the nurses and doctors here at Mission for the great care I’ve gotten.

“I want to thank the officer for risking his life to save Kyndall, and wish him the best in his recovery.

I also want to thank the firefighters who climbed up to save me. And, I want to thank the media for keeping attention on us to help get us rescued.

“The whole time I was lost, I felt the presence of Jesus and my friend, Carlos, who died last year of cancer. I felt they were both with me, inspiring me to stay alive.

“I was so relieved to hear that Kyndall was found and will be okay. I can’t wait to see her face-to-face and give her a big hug. I just want to see for myself that she’s okay.”

When searchers found Cendoya dehydrated and exhausted on Wednesday night, he and hiking Kyndall Jack had become separated.

Jack was discovered Thursday morning clinging to the side of a cliff in the Trabuco Canyon area.

On Thursday, Jack’s screams caught the attention of a search team, setting in motion her dramatic rescue.

They summoned additional rescuers and a helicopter, which eventually located her under a canopy of brush high on a hillside.

“I yelled out to her to see if she could see me,” said rescuer Mike Leum. “She said she could see me, but I could not see her.”

Leum shouted at her to wave her arms. She could only wave one, she told told him. The other was hurt.

Leum kept his eyes on the teen as he directed a helicopter to hoist her off the small rocky outcrop where she was stranded. The rescue took about 90 minutes.

During the rescue effort, a volunteer reserve sheriff’s deputy fell 60 feet down a hillside and suffered a serious head injury. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.

“She was severely dehydrated,” Leum said. “She was confused — she didn’t really know much of anything.”

Rescuers said she had a lot of dirt in and around her mouth, and they were worried about giving her water for fear that she would choke.

Jack, a college student from Costa Mesa, was airlifted to UC Irvine Medical Center.

She was undergoing tests and being treated for dehydration and hypothermia, a hospital spokesman said.

Her family “would like to thank every one for their help, and to thank them for keeping her in their thoughts and prayers,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Officials said Jack was roughly 1,400 feet from where Cendoya had been found and less than a mile from where they had parked their car.

Cendoya was found following 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 Cendoya, and that team was able to coordinate with their airship to rescue him.

He was found wedged in a crevice high above a creek bed, surrounded by thick brush.

Searchers had to cut through the brush to get to him, and the visibility on the ground was only about 10 feet, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Park said.

Cendoya was 500 feet from a busy roadway, but he disoriented from extreme dehydration, authorities said.

He had lost his shoes and had cuts and scratches on his feet and body. He told hospital staff that he covered himself with brush at night to stay warm, and prayed.

The massive search for the teens began on Sunday night, and eventually grew to include 16 different agencies.

Friends said that Cendoya and Jack were accomplished athletes who regularly worked out together at a local gym, but they were not experienced hikers.

They took no food, did not inform friends of their route. Cendoya was dressed in board shorts and a T-shirt.

They set out on a popular trail leading to a waterfall, but apparently strayed from the path and quickly became lost in the rugged terrain and thorny chaparral.

As night fell, Cendoya used his dying cellphone to call 911 around 8:30 p.m.

“He was panting and said, ‘We’re out of water,’” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jon Muir said.

Cendoya estimated that he and Jack were about a mile from their car in Holy Jim Canyon. The distance proved right, but the location he gave the operator was “totally” wrong, Muir said.

Their cellphone battery died before authorities were able to get an accurate GPS location for the pair.

Dr. Michael Ritter said on Thursday that Cendoya was hoping his ordeal would convince others to be better prepared.

“He is very concerned that we offer pointers to all the hikers out there so that they can take care,” the doctor said.

-KTLA/Los Angeles Times

One of the two Orange County hikers who went missing for several days last week in Trabuco Canyon was released from the hospital Sunday.

Nicolas Cendoya, 19, recovered at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, Calif. after becoming lost with his friend, 18-year-old Kyndall Jack, on Easter Sunday.

Jack remains hospitalized and is listed in good condition, but Cendoya walked out of the hospital on his own.

TRABUCO CANYON, Calif. (KTLA) — Two hikers were recovering in Orange County hospitals on Friday, after rescue crews hoisted the second to safety on Thursday afternoon.

18-year-old Kyndall Jack was discovered clinging to the side of a cliff in the Trabuco Canyon area.

It had been four days since she went missing while hiking with a friend, 19-year-old Nicholas Cendoya.

When searchers found Cendoya dehydrated and exhausted on Wednesday night, he said they’d become separated and he hadn’t seen her recently.

On Thursday, Jack’s screams caught the attention of a search team, setting in motion her dramatic rescue.

They summoned additional rescuers and a helicopter, which eventually located her under a canopy of brush high on a hillside.

“I yelled out to her to see if she could see me,” said rescuer Mike Leum. “She said she could see me, but I could not see her.”

Leum shouted at her to wave her arms. She could only wave one, she told told him. The other was hurt.

Leum kept his eyes on the teen as he directed a helicopter to hoist her off the small rocky outcrop where she was stranded. The rescue took about 90 minutes.

During the rescue effort, a volunteer reserve sheriff’s deputy fell 60 feet down a hillside and suffered a serious head injury. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.

“She was severely dehydrated,” Leum said. “She was confused — she didn’t really know much of anything.”

Rescuers said she had a lot of dirt in and around her mouth, and they were worried about giving her water for fear that she would choke.

Jack, a college student from Costa Mesa, was airlifted to UC Irvine Medical Center.

She was undergoing tests and being treated for dehydration and hypothermia, a hosptial spokesman said.

Her family “would like to thank every one for their help, and to thank them for keeping her in their thoughts and prayers,” a hospital spokesperson said.

Officials said Jack was roughly 1,400 feet from where Cendoya had been found and less than a mile from where they had parked their car.

Cendoya, meantime, remains hospitalized at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo with dehydration and superficial cuts.

He posted a message to his Facebook account on Thursday night thanking everyone for their prayers and support.

“Thank you all for keeping Kyndall Jack and I in your prayers,” he said. “We love you all and I can’t wait to see her and give her a hug and tell her we did it.”

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 Cendoya, and that team was able to coordinate with their airship to rescue him.

He was found wedged in a crevice high above a creek bed, surrounded by thick brush.

Searchers had to cut through the brush to get to him, and the visibility on the ground was only about 10 feet, Orange County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Park said.

Cendoya was 500 feet from a busy roadway, but he disoriented from extreme dehydration, authorities said.

He had lost his shoes and had cuts and scratches on his feet and body. He told hospital staff that he covered himself with brush at night to stay warm, and prayed.

Cendoya also told authorities when he was rescued that he thought Jack had already been found.

The massive search for the teens began on Sunday night, and eventually grew to include 16 different agencies.

Friends said that Cendoya and Jack were accomplished athletes who regularly worked out together at a local gym, but they were not experienced hikers.

They took no food, did not inform friends of their route. Cendoya was dressed in board shorts and a T-shirt.

They set out on a popular trail leading to a waterfall, but apparently strayed from the path and quickly became lost in the rugged terrain and thorny chaparral.

As night fell, Cendoya used his dying cellphone to call 911 around 8:30 p.m.

“He was panting and said, ‘We’re out of water,’” Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jon Muir said.

Cendoya estimated that he and Jack were about a mile from their car in Holy Jim Canyon. The distance proved right, but the location he gave the operator was “totally” wrong, Muir said.

Their cellphone battery died before authorities were able to get an accurate GPS location for the pair.

Dr. Michael Ritter said on Thursday that Cendoya was hoping his ordeal would convince others to be better prepared.

“He is very concerned that we offer pointers to all the hikers out there so that they can take care,” the doctor said.

-KTLA/Los Angeles Times

“I was screaming yelling can you see me!! She said yes I see you!,” says Mike Leum, .A. Co. Sheriff Search and Rescue.

Video shows rescuers from the l.A. County Sheriff’s Department hover over 18 year old Kyndall Jack.

“She was clinging to a ledge on a cliff side going on and out of consciousness,” says Jim Moss, L.A. Co. Sheriff Search and Rescue.

After 4 gut wrenching days and nights for friends and family.

“We have confirmed we have Kyndall. She’s been rescued. She’s alive,” Lt. Jason Park, OC Sheriff’s Department.

They found Kyndall after a hiker heard a woman screaming for help. She was found in a lot of pain, dehydrated, and weak.

“She was huddled in fetal position and asked what year it was,” says Fred Wenzel, L.A. Co. Sheriff’s Department.

Kyndall was rescued adjacent to where her friend 19 year old Nicholas Cendoya, had been rescued the night before.

Loved ones rejoiced when they heard their Nicholas was alive and well.

This team from the Orange County Fire Authority found Nicholas…and say the conditions made this search particularly challenging.

Rescue crews say one moment they will never forget… telling family members Kyndall was alive.

“They cried …it was worth it,” Jon Muir, OC Fire Authority.

– Christina Pascucci, KTLA News

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