published Thursday, April 4th, 2013

1 hiker found, 1 still missing in California forest

Family members and friends prepare to tow the vehicle of missing hikers Nicholas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, early Wednesday in Cleveland National Forest in Trabuco Hills in Southern California. The hikers were reported missing Sunday.
Family members and friends prepare to tow the vehicle of missing hikers Nicholas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, early Wednesday in Cleveland National Forest in Trabuco Hills in Southern California. The hikers were reported missing Sunday.
Photo by Associated Press /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — One of two hikers missing for three days in Southern California’s Cleveland National Forest was found alive Wednesday night, but his companion remained missing, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

Another hiker not involved in the search found 19-year-old Nicholas Cendoya at about 8 p.m., then told a rescue crew where to find him, Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Jason Park said.

The crew found Cendoya conscious and was talking to him, but there was no further word on his condition.

The whereabouts and condition of the second hiker, Kyndall Jack, 18, remained unknown, Park said. It wasn’t immediately clear if he was able to provide information about Jack.

Cendoya was flown to a hospital 20 miles away in Mission Viejo. Television footage showed him walking with help from paramedics.

The pair had not been heard from since their cellphone died Sunday night.

Several dozen searchers with help from three helicopters had been combing the rugged hills of Trabuco Canyon in the national forest.

They were searching the area because a 911 call from the hikers’ cellphone was traced to a nearby cell tower, Orange County Fire Authority Capt. John Muir.

Muir said earlier that Cendoya and Jack’s “probability for survival is good” with mild weather both day and night.

The two were believed to have gone off trail near Holy Jim Trail, a tree-lined dirt path along a creek that leads to a waterfall and is popular with day hikers.

In the 911 call, they said they were about a mile from Jack’s car, which was parked at a trailhead, but rescuers expanded the search when they weren’t found nearby.

Jack’s mother drew a message on the car’s dusty windshield that read: “Kyndall - we r looking wont stop love you mom,” and signed it with a heart.

“When you’re disoriented because you’re out of breath and tired and you think you’re one mile away, you could be potentially three or four miles away,” Muir said Wednesday afternoon. “There’s a lot of ground to cover.”

It was unclear whether the lost hikers carried water and Jack’s father, Russ Jack, said he worried that after three days the pair might be dehydrated.

The area is in a section of the national forest in the Santa Ana Mountains, which lie along the border of Orange and Riverside counties southeast of Los Angeles. The trail ranges in elevation from about 2,000 feet to about 4,000 feet.

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