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Missing hiker 'felt the presence of Jesus' during ordeal

April 07, 2013|By Jill Cowan, Times Community News

Nicolas Cendoya, one of the two Costa Mesa teens rescued from a hike gone wrong in Trabuco Canyon, said he can't wait to hug Kyndall Jack after their ordeal lost in the mountains of Orange County.

"I was so relieved to hear that Kyndall was found and will be OK," Cendoya said in a statement issued from his hospital bed Friday night. "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 OK."

Cendoya credited his faith with helping him make it without food or water for almost four days.

"The whole time I was lost, I felt the presence of Jesus and my friend, Carlos, who died last year of cancer," he said. "I felt they were both with me, inspiring me to stay alive."

Cendoya, 19, and Jack, 18, headed into the scrubby wilds near Rancho Santa Margarita for a hike on Easter Sunday. They got separated early on in what became a nearly weeklong ordeal, Cendoya has told authorities.

Cendoya was airlifted from the canyon Wednesday night. Jack was rescued late Thursday morning from a spot not far from where he was found.

"There are so many people to thank," Cendoya said. "I want to thank all those people who never stopped trying to find me and Kyndall."

A group of hikers discovered Cendoya lying on a rugged hillside, nearly hidden by thick brush. They flagged down an Orange County Fire Authority reserve crew that was training nearby. Authorities have not identified the hikers who found Cendoya.

In the statement released by Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where Cendoya was taken by helicopter, he also thanked his parents, hospital staff and "so many supporters I didn't even know I had."

He wished an Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy who plunged an estimated 60 feet and seriously injured his head during Jack's rescue "the best in his recovery."

"I also want to thank the firefighters who climbed up to save me," he added.

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