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Rescued hiker: Thank you for 'trying to find me'

April 05, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz and Anh Do
  • Rescued hiker Nicolas Cendoya from his hospital room in Mission Viejo on Friday.
Rescued hiker Nicolas Cendoya from his hospital room in Mission Viejo on… (Joel Rahmatulla/Mission…)

One of the two hikers pulled from a brushy canyon wall in Orange County’s canyon lands released a photo of himself in his Mission Viejo hospital room and said he looks forward to the day he can give his hiking companion a “big hug.”

“There are so many people to thank,” Nicolas Cendoya wrote in a message released by Mission Hospital. “I want to thank all those who never stopped trying to find me and Kyndall.”

The two teenage hikers who were lost for days in the Trabuco Canyon area remained hospitalized late Friday but are showing signs of improvement.

The day after the second of the two hikers was found hidden in head-high brush, family members thanked the search teams and volunteers who scoured the area around Trabuco Canyon.

Cendoya, 19, is in serious but stable condition at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, but is “progressing well,” said Tamara Sharp, a hospital spokeswoman. He is expected to remain hospitalized over the weekend.

Cendoya was pulled from the canyon Wednesday night, but his friend and hiking companion, Kyndall Jack, 18, wasn’t found until midday Thursday. Both were disoriented and in weakened condition.


Jack was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center, where she was treated for dehydration and hypothermia. She remained in intensive care Friday while doctors continued to run tests, said John Murray, a spokesman for the hospital.

A reserve deputy, a 20-year-veteran of the department, fell about 60 feet during the rescue as he reached for Jack. He remains in serious condition. Officials said he sustained serious but non-life-threatening head injuries.

“He is responsive and can move all of his limbs,” said Gail Krause, a spokeswoman for the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, in an email. The department did not release his name.


“I want to thank the officer for risking his life to save Kyndall, and wish him the best in his recovery,” Cendoya wrote in his message Friday. “I also want to thank the firefighters who climbed up to save me. And I want to thank the media for keeping attention on us to help get us rescued.


“The whole time I was lost, I felt the presence of Jesus and my friend, Carlos, who died last year of cancer. I felt they were both with me, inspiring me to stay alive. I was so relieved to hear that Kyndall was found and will be okay. I can’t wait to see her face-to-face and give her a big hug. I just want to see for myself that she’s okay.”

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nicole.santacruz@latimes.com 

anh.do@latimes.com

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