Commentary: If drugs played a role, hikers should pay

Re. "D.A. charges missing hiker with meth possession" (May 1): We should be thankful for the news that drug possession charges were filed April 30 against one of the two lost hikers, Nicolas Cendoya.

It provides closure and an end to a mystery that troubled everyone in the area since the two hikers were found several days after getting lost on Easter Sunday.

We don't have definitive proof that Cendoya and Kyndall Jack were on drugs during their hike, but there couldn't be a more searing set of indicators: drugs were allegedly found in Cendoya's car, according to investigators, and the pair were lost and separated from each other that first night. And they admitted to severe hallucinations early on in their ordeal.

Emergency medical technicians and search-and-rescue personnel will tell you that the effects of dehydration should not cause such severe reactions in such a short amount of time.

Hiking and outdoor recreation is part of our Southern California culture. Those of us who hike, bike, run and walk our trails attempt to be prepared, and we take note of the mistakes of others.

These two kids embarked on an excursion that resulted in the severe injury of a rescuer and a $160,000 tab to the county. It confused many as to how a benign activity such as a day hike could lead to two people going missing for days.

If these tragic events were the result not of just rookie mistakes but grievous, illegal activities, they should be held financially responsible.

We should be thankful they are safe, and thankful they will serve as a lesson to others.

JOHN ROSEN lives in Newport Beach.

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