April 5, 2013

Search crews recount dramatic Calif. hiker rescue

Gillian Flaccus / The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

This photo provided by Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Reserve Deputy Doug Cramoline shows the helicopter rescue of Kyndall Jack, 18, by an L.A. County deputy after a rescue team found Jack clinging to an almost vertical canyon wall.

AP

click image to enlarge

This photo provided by Los Angeles County Search and Rescue Reserve Deputy Doug Cramoline shows the helicopter rescue of Kyndall Jack, 18, by an L.A. County deputy after being missing for five days in rugged country near Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.

AP

Many details of the pair's ordeal remained a mystery and officials hoped to question them more closely once they were rested and more stable.

It's unclear, for example, why Jack and Cendoya went off the well-marked trail and how much water they had with them. It's also unclear exactly when and how they got separated.

Before his cellphone's battery died, Cendoya was able to make a 911 call — and already the pair seemed in trouble.

"He was panting and said, 'We're out of water.' You could hear Kyndall in the background," said Orange County fire Capt. Jon Muir. "He said, 'I think we're about a mile or two from the car,' and he was right about the distance but in totally the wrong direction."

Cendoya was found Wednesday night in shorts and a shirt but missing his shoes and told doctors he'd become separated from Jack sometime Sunday night. He was flown to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where doctors said he was being treated for severe dehydration, scratches and bruises. He was expected to remain for several days.

Park said Cendoya was "extremely confused and disoriented," when he was found just 500 feet from a heavily traveled dirt road, giving an added urgency to the effort to find his friend.

Jack was found in similar condition, dressed in a pair of dirty athletic shorts, a hoodie and socks, having also lost her shoes. She had low blood pressure, trouble breathing, pain in her legs and right hand and was fading in and out of consciousness when rescuers reached her, Moss said. It was unclear how she wound up on the precarious ledge and she was too ill to tell her rescuers, they said.

She had no memory of going hiking or of being with Cendoya, they said.

Despite that, she suffered no major internal injuries and was listed in good condition at the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center, said hospital spokesman John Murray.

Like Cendoya, she was being treated for dehydration and was expected to be hospitalized for several days.

At Mission Hospital, Dr. Michael Ritter told reporters Cendoya said he survived by taking shelter at night in heavy brush and passing his days by praying.

"He's got a lot of faith in the Lord, which I think will help him to work his way through this," Ritter said shortly before Jack was located.

Cendoya says on his Facebook page that he's a 2011 graduate of Orange County's Costa Mesa High School and a student at Orange Coast College. A number of photos show the athletic-looking young man working out and lifting weights.

The area where the two got lost is in a section of forest in the Santa Ana Mountains that lies 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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