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Rescued hiker: shoeless and in a state of delirium, doctor says

April 04, 2013|By Anh Do and Jill Cowan
  • Dr.Michael S. Ritter briefs the media at Mission Hospital where authorities brought missing hiker Nicholas Cendoya,19.
Dr.Michael S. Ritter briefs the media at Mission Hospital where authorities… (Mark Boster / Los Angeles…)

The first of two teenage hikers rescued in the brushy canyon lands in south Orange County was in a state of delirium and had become so tired that he lost sense of what he was doing or where he was, according to the emergency room director where he is being treated.

When he was found, Nicholas Cendoya was covered in scratches over much of his body from the shoulder-high brush and had lost his shoes, said Dr. Michael Ritter, director of the emergency room at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo.

The 19-year-old was wearing only board shorts and a T-shirt when he was found late Wednesday, and he had suffered lacerations on his feet, authorities said.

His hiking companion, Kyndall Jack, was rescued midday Thursday, not far from where Cendoya was found.

The 18-year-old girl was several hundred feet from a dirt road and roughly half a mile from where the two hikers had parked their car Sunday before setting off on a day hike.

A rescue team was drawn to the spot where Jack was found after a hiker reported hearing sounds of a woman screaming near Falls Canyon. The former high school soccer player was conscious, but in weakened condition, officials said.

A worker at the Trabuco Canyon General Store, which sits at the trail head near the wilderness where the couple were found, said she recalled selling the two hikers an “Adventure Pass” to hike into the national forest. She said the two of them also bought one bottle of water.

Megan Shounia, whose father owns the rustic general store, said Jack signed for the pass just after 3 p.m. Sunday.

The young hikers stood out, Shounia said, because "we get a lot of weird people here but they seemed like the normal ones."

She said she talked with them briefly and cautioned them about the rocky terrain they were about to enter. Cendoya, she said, was wearing a white tank top and a hat while Jack was wearing a T-shirt and had a hat.

After he was rescued, Cendoya told officials that during the ordeal he covered himself in the evening hours with brush and leaves to stay warm, Ritter explained. 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."

Before his daughter was found, Russ Jack said he was told that Cendoya initially believed that his companion had already been rescued.

"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.' "

Ritter said that although Cendoya remained disoriented from the ordeal, it did not appear he suffered any major trauma.

He said a person can survive five to seven days in the wilderness if he or she has water. It is believed the two had run out of water. Medical teams were still assessing Jack’s condition.

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anh.do@latimes.com

ill.cowan@latimes.com

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