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Rescued O.C. hikers improving; injured deputy in serious condition

April 05, 2013|By Nicole Santa Cruz, Rick Rojas and Kate Mather

Two hikers who were hospitalized in critical condition after being found in the rugged terrain of Orange County’s Trabuco Canyon are continuing to show signs of improvement, but a reserve deputy who fell during the rescue remains in serious condition.

Nicolas Cendoya, 19, remains hospitalized in serious but stable condition at Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, but is “progressing well,” said Tamara Sharp, the director of marketing and communications. He is expected to remain hospitalized over the weekend.

Cendoya was pulled from the canyon Wednesday night; his friend and hiking companion, Kyndall Jack, 18, wasn’t found until late Thursday morning. Both were disoriented and in weakened condition when they were found, officials said.

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

“She will probably be here a few more days,” he said.

After hiking a popular trail leading to a waterfall on Easter Sunday, the two apparently strayed from the path and became lost in the rugged terrain and thorny chaparral.

As night fell, Cendoya used the remaining power on his cellphone to call 911. After four days of searching by helicopter, on foot, on horseback and with bloodhounds, hikers spotted Cendoya just before 8 p.m. Wednesday.

He appeared disoriented from extreme dehydration and had lost his shoes. Just before noon the next day, a team of sheriff’s deputies from Los Angeles and Ventura counties heard a woman’s screams. Eventually, Jack was found under a canopy of brush high on a hillside, about 1,400 feet from where Cendoya was located.

A reserve deputy, a 20-year-veteran of the department, fell about 60 feet during Jack’s rescue. He remains in serious condition.

The reserve, who officials said sustained serious but non-life threatening head injuries, fell as he reached for Jack.

“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.

The reserve deputies condition will likely remain unchanged over the weekend, Krause said.

In a message on his Facebook page, Cendoya said he was feeling improved and thanked those who had joined the search effort.

"I am so thankful god had Kyndall Kihapai Jack saved," he wrote. "It killed me she was out there still."

He added: "Cant wait to see her and give her a hug and tell her we did it."


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