After meth arrest, O.C. authorities may bill hikers for rescue


The Orange County Sheriff’s Department is considering whether to bill two hikers rescued in Trabuco Canyon $160,000 for the cost of the search after one of the hikers was charged with drug possession.

The department is looking into the emergency response to the incident, said Capt. Adam Powell said Thursday.

Earlier this week, the sheriff’s department said it would not bill the hikers for the multiday search in the brushy back country, an effort that involved multiple agencies and resulted in a serious injury to one of the rescuers, who fell 60 feet.


Nick Cendoya, 19, was charged Tuesday with a felony count of methamphetamine possession after deputies searched his parked car for clues into the pair’s disappearance March 31 in Trabuco Canyon. Authorities said the discovery was made during the search-and-rescue effort.

Cendoya and Kyndall Jack, 18, had embarked on an Easter Sunday hike and become lost by 8 p.m. that day.

Cendoya was found late Wednesday less than a mile from his parked BMW. Jack was found nearby the next day on a steep hillside.

Both of the teenagers said they were delusional and had hallucinated while lost in the wilderness. Neither could recall how they became separated.

The department said that once the hikers were found, interviews were conducted and the case was handed over to the district attorney’s office.

County Supervisor John Moorlach said that from the beginning of the search-and-rescue effort something seemed off.

“We certainly want to save them, but, by golly, you were saved and you owe your society a debt of gratitude,” he said. “And you need to pay the bill.”


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Twitter: @nicolesantacruz