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Missing hikers: Rescued man thought friend was already found

April 04, 2013|By Rick Rojas, Kate Mather and Irfan Khan

The teenage hiker rescued from Trabuco Canyon on Wednesday night after being missing since Easter told authorities he thought his friend had already been rescued.

Nicholas Cendoya, 19, was found confused and dehydrated about half a mile from where he and his hiking companian, Kyndall Jack, 18, had parked their vehicles on Sunday.

He was alone and authorities intensified their search Thursday for Jack, who remains missing.

When Cendoya was found, he thought Jack had also been saved, said the girl's father, Russ Jack.

"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."

Cendoya was found off a gravel road that had been traversed by rescue crews and volunteers who had come to join in the search, rescue officials said at a news conference. He was only about a half-mile south of where he left his car.

He was spotted by hikers in the area, though officials could not say whether they were connected with the search that had dispatched swarms of volunteers into the hills to look for Cendoya and Jack.

Rescue teams had to slash through thick brush to get to Cendoya, who was scratched up, dehydrated and disoriented, said Lt. Jason Park of the Orange County Sheriff's Department. He was wearing board shorts and a shirt but did not have shoes.

Cendoya was taken to an area hospital for treatment and remains in intensive care, although his injuries are not life-threatening and appear to be mostly superficial, Park said.

Capt. Jon Muir of the Orange County Fire Authority said that Cendoya was in stable condition, was "conscious and talkative" and had asked about Jack.

But Cendoya had little to offer in terms of recollection of when he and Jack separated, or any of the events the precipitated them being lost, Park of the sheriff's department said. "It's very confusing for him at this point," he said.

Park added: "We're talking to someone who's confused and sometimes who doesn't know where he's at. ... It's easy to get lost out there, it's easy to get where you can't see five feet in front of you."

Officials on Thursday morning were bringing in additional tracking 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."

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.


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