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Missing hikers: Officials 'confident' second teen will be found

April 04, 2013|By Rick Rojas, Nicole Santa Cruz and Kate Mather

The search for a missing teen hiker in the Trabuco Canyon area of Orange County stretched into another day Thursday, but not without some good news the night before.

Nicholas Cendoya, 19, was found alive Wednesday night, about a half-mile from where he and Kyndall Jack, 18, parked their car on Easter Sunday. Cendoya was "disoriented and confused," Lt. Jason Park of the Orange County Sheriff's Department said, and was taken to a trauma center for treatment. 

Meanwhile, the search for Jack continued, and crews mapped out their strategy before daybreak Thursday. Searchers remained on the ground until late Wednesday, and authorities used a helicopter with infrared technology before fog rolled in.

PHOTOS: Missing hikers in Orange County

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

For days, scores of investigators on horseback, in helicopters and guided by bloodhounds have combed the rugged hills of south Orange County while an army of volunteers trudged into the wilderness to find the two teen hikers.

Cendoya and Jack, 18, vanished near Holy Jim Canyon, calling authorities for help Sunday evening before their cellphone died.

As the search continued Wednesday, authorities — as well as friends and family — remained optimistic: The weather had been on their side, and the two teens are said to be athletic with no medical issues. Authorities also said they'd found no evidence of foul play and had dismissed the possibility that the teens could actually be elsewhere.

As the days have passed, two outposts at the foot of the search area emerged: A hub for the array of agencies contributing to the search, a home base for the official investigation; and the other, a gathering point for a legion of volunteers — friends and family, neighbors and classmates, and others who didn't even know the missing teens but wanted to pitch in.

"For all these people to come out for her," Jack's father, Russ Jack, said early Wednesday afternoon, pointing to the cars winding up the road and clusters of volunteers. "That's pretty gracious, if you ask me."

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