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Missing hikers: Girl's screams led to her rescue, officials say

April 04, 2013|By Rick Rojas and Kate Mather

This post has been corrected, as noted below.

It was Kyndall Jack's screams that ultimately led to her rescue, officials said Thursday.

The 18-year-old, who had been missing in Orange County's Trabuco Canyon since Easter Sunday, was airlifted off a rugged hillside Thursday morning and transported to UCI Medical Center in Orange, officials said.

Rescuers reached the woman Thursday morning after a hiker alerted rescue teams of the sounds of a woman screaming near Falls Canyon. Officials said she was about half a mile from where she and a friend, Nicolas Cendoya, parked their car Sunday.

Photos: The search for missing hikers

“She is responsive, appears to be dehydrated, she is weak,” said Lt. Jason Park of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department. “She’s alive, she’s conscious and she’s being transported.”

Park described the operation as a difficult rescue because of the steep terrain. One of the volunteer reserve deputies involved in the search for Jack suffered a head injury after a fall and was being taken to another area hospital. 

Capt. John Muir of the Orange County Fire Authority said that when Jack’s parents were told she had been found, “they cried, they hugged us, they thanked us immensely."

"This is a good outcome," he told reporters. "This is why we do what we do.”

Crews had scoured the difficult terrain since Sunday evening, when Cendoya and Jack called authorities on a cellphone and said they were lost.

Cendoya, 19, was found dehydrated and disoriented on Wednesday night, about half a mile from the parked car off a gravel road that had been traversed by search crews.

Rescuers had to slash through thick brush to get to Cendoya, who was wearing board shorts and a shirt but did not have shoes, Park said.

Cendoya's arms and legs were covered in scratches, officials said. He was rushed to Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, where he arrived in "very serious" condition, Dr. Michael Ritter said.

Ritter said Thursday that Cendoya was responding well to treatment and would probably be released in a few days.

Cendoya's rescue reinvigorated crews searching for Jack, authorities said Thursday morning.

Ritter said Cendoya told him the pair had been "hiking around" Sunday when night fell and they somehow became separated. Cendoya said that was the last time he saw Jack, the doctor said.

Cendoya covered himself with brush to keep warm, Ritter said. He also prayed.

"Nick said the thing that kept him going was praying," Ritter told reporters. "He said he would pray every day and every night to give him the strength to get out of there."

[For the record, 3:40 p.m. April 4: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that UC Irvine Medical Center is in Irvine; it is in Orange.]

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