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Rescuers continue search for missing O.C. hiker

April 03, 2013|By Robert J. Lopez
  • A search dog and rescue teams were part of an intense effort to locate two missing hikers on Wednesday afternoon.
A search dog and rescue teams were part of an intense effort to locate two… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

Rescuers were confident Wednesday night that they would locate a missing hiker in Orange County's Trabuco Canyon after finding the woman's hiking partner alive in the area.

Crews on the ground were being aided by rescuers in a helicopter who were using infrared technology in hopes of pinpointing the location 18-year-old Kyndall Jack in the brushy mountainside terrain, authorities said.

Fog was beginning to move into the area late Wednesday, but rescuers were not sure if it would force officials to halt the air operation, authorities said.

"We'll keep flying as long as there's visibility," Lt. Jason Park of the Orange County Sheriff's Department told The Times. 

Jack's hiking partner, Nicholas Cendoya, 19, was found shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday, apparently by a hiker not involved in the search for the two Costa Mesa residents, authorities said. The couple became lost on Easter Sunday.

"He's dehydrated and very confused," Park said of Cendoya. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Because of his confused state, Cendoya was "not a very good source" of information regarding the location of Jack, Park said. Nonetheless, he said he was optimistic that Jack would be located.

"We're confident that we will find Kyndall," Park said.

He said Cendoya was found about a half mile from where the couple had parked their car.

The two hikers have been the focus of intense search efforts by officials and volunteers on the ground and in the air.

After Jack and Cendoya became lost, they used a cellphone Sunday evening to tell authorities they were about a mile from their car in Holy Jim Canyon. But their phone lost power soon afterward.

Bloodhounds picked up Jack and Cendoya's scents early Monday and again late Monday night, officials said. Tuesday afternoon, rescuers combed through a 2-mile arc from the hikers' car, focusing efforts on where the dogs last found the scents.

The rocky, tree-shaded dirt trail the pair took leads to a waterfall. The 2.8-mile round trip is popular with day hikers. Its difficulty is listed as moderate to serious on a U.S. Forest Service website. Jack and Cendoya, however, "did not keep to the trail," Orange County sheriff's Lt. Erin Guidice said.

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Twitter: @LAJourno

robert.lopez@latimes.com

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