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Missing hiker might have hurt ankle; officials ramp up search

April 04, 2013|By Kate Mather and Irfan Khan

The teenage hiker still missing in the Trabuco Canyon area of Orange County apparently couldn't keep up with her friend as the two tried to make their way out of the brush, possibly because of a twisted ankle, her father said.

Russ Jack told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday morning that some information had been gleaned from his daughter's friend, Nicholas Cendoya, 19, who was rescued Wednesday night. Cendoya and Kyndall Jack, 18, called authorities Easter Sunday and said they were lost.

Cendoya was "disoriented and confused" when he was found, said Lt. Jason Park of the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

AUDIO: Listen to missing hiker's dad

Russ Jack said Cendoya indicatedthat  he had communicated with Kyndall Jack even after they were separated. When he was found Cendoya thought the girl had also been saved, Russ Jack said.

"Nicholas obviously was disoriented because of dehydration ... he thought that Kyndall had already been rescued," Russ Jack said. "He said, 'I haven't seen her for a day. I think she's already been rescued.' "

"Of course we all kind of broke up. That hurt us that they split up somehow," he continued. "But apparently Kyndall has twisted her ankle or something and could not keep up with Nicholas trying to get out of the brush they're in."

Other hikers in the area reported coming across Cendoya on Wednesday night. Ground crews coordinated with a helicopter and located him about 8 p.m., but found no sign of Jack.

Park said Thursday morning that Cendoya was in stable condition at an area hospital.

Officials were preparing for a ramped-up search Thursday morning, bringing in additional dogs to search the dense wooded area and preparing to to get helicopters in the air as soon as the fog lifted, Park said.

Finding Cendoya gave searchers "renewed energy," he added. "We look at last night optimistically."

Russ Jack said his family was already out in the field, cutting through the thick brush with a machete to clear the way for searchers.

"She may be very, very cold and shivering. I don't know how well she's going to be able to do anything," her mother, Dawn Jack, told searchers before they went to work Thursday. "The closer you get, the louder you get, the more she is going to try and sit up .... I know you guys can do this."

Kyndall Jack's family has remained in the area around the clock. "We've been here," he said. "That's all we can do. Not just wait it out, but join in."

Her father thanked others who had come to help with the search, but said Thursday that those without proper training should stay away. Authorities echoed those concerns, saying more people in the area could hinder search dogs' ability to track the teenager.

Jack's father said his family was not giving up.

"We're all still very, very hopeful that she's going to come out of this OK," he said.

The hikers got lost in what is Orange County's backcountry, where tidy tracts of homes and homogenized commercial developments give way to narrow, winding roads, steep green hills and dense brush that could be a hurdle for inexperienced hikers such as Cendoya and Jack.

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