Costa Mesa Hikers Will Not Be Charged for Cost of Rescue

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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.

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