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'A tremendous victory'

TRABUCO CANYON — A Costa Mesa teen found Thursday after spending four nights missing in Trabuco Canyon was in good condition without any major internal injuries, a hospital spokesman said.

Kyndall Jack, 18, arrived about 12:21 p.m. hypothermic, confused and with signs of dehydration, said John Murray, UC Irvine Medical Center's spokesman. She was given fluids and underwent diagnostic procedures for internal injuries.

As of 9 p.m., Murray said she didn't have any major internal injuries but there weren't plans to discharge her Thursday night.

Jack was found about 11:50 a.m. in a steep, brushy area on the side of the canyon, according to authorities and KTLA video footage. Two workers repelled down and made contact with her as a Los Angeles Sheriff's Department helicopter hovered overhead, the bushes jumping from the winds created by the chopper's blades.

Amid the nearly vertical rocks and thick brush, little was visible other than the rescuer's white helmet and Jack's legs splayed out on the rocks. The rescuer stuck by her side and pulled her body — limp like a ragdoll — off the rocks as the two were hoisted in harnesses into the helicopter.

It took about 90 minutes for rescuers to reach her after a hiker heard her screaming, said Orange County Sheriff's Department Lt. Jason Park. Finding Jack was "a tremendous victory," he said.

It was unclear if the hiker was part of the search.

The Jack family is not talking with the media but thanked people for their help in searching and praying, Murray said.

*

Not where you'd expect

Jack's hiking companion, Nicolas Cendoya, 19, was found late Wednesday evening, which energized the search crews, one official said.

Earlier reports mistakenly identified him as "Nicholas."

"This place came alive last night," said Orange County Fire Authority Division Chief Michael Boyle.

Cendoya and Jack were found about 1,400 feet apart in extremely high brush, but their exact locations were unclear, Park said. Rescuers had to cut through the brush and still couldn't see Cendoya 10 feet away.

An OCFA training team based just down the road from where Jack and Cendoya went missing were practicing hiking and cutting lines in the vegetation when someone flagged them down saying they'd found someone.

That someone turned out to be Cendoya.

He was wedged into a V-shaped ridge high off a creekbed, buffeted by thick brush. Firefighter Dave Hunt, an 18-year veteran, said the team tried several times to shimmy their way up only to slide back down.

"He was not in a place you'd expect a hiker to go," Park said.

Fellow firefighter William Holt said he had to hack his way through the brush to get to Cendoya, at some points getting on his knees to crawl through a narrow tunnel in the brush.

Once the team got to him and prepared for him to be airlifted, Cendoya seemed relieved and aware of what was going on.

"He knew his name," Hunt said. "He knew how long he'd been out there."

Earlier reports said Cendoya was disoriented, didn't know his name and that he thought Jack had already been rescued.

*

Alert, speaking

Cendoya was up and talking early Thursday afternoon, according to Tamara Sharp, director of marketing for Mission Hospital Mission Viejo where he is being treated. It's unclear how long he'll be in treatment, she said.

He was alert and speaking, "at the time [he was admitted] he was very focused on making sure Kyndall got found," Sharp said.

She added that he had a few scratches on his arms and legs from trying to cover himself with branches to keep warm at night.

Cendoya posted to Facebook about 7 p.m. Thursday, saying that he wasn't in as much pain and that he was grateful God had saved Jack.

"Can't wait to see her and give her a hug and tell her we did it," he wrote.

As of 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Cendoya remained in the Intensive Care Unit in serious but stable condition, according to Sharp.

Earlier in the day, Boyle said Cendoya's injuries were mostly what would be expected from being in the brush and there wasn't any evidence that he fell.

"He was pretty scratched up," but didn't have any broken bones, he said. "His memory was challenged. He indicated that he thought he was in Newport Beach."

Park had said earlier that Cendoya "was extremely confused and extremely dehydrated. [He wasn't] even sure of his own name" when he was found.

So far authorities don't have any indication that he was under the influence when they found him. Doctors say he may regain some memory of the event.

*

'Very, Very Lucky'

Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who has represented the area for about 15 years in various capacities, stressed that Jack and Cendoya were fortunate.

"They're very, very lucky young people to have their future ahead of them," he said. "A lot of people put themselves in harm's way to help these young people."

A rescuer was in serious condition and in intensive care after falling 60 feet and hitting his head Thursday, but his injuries are not expected to be life threatening, Park said.

About 80 law enforcement personnel worked in the search, including California Emergency Management Agency, Orange County Fire Authority, Orange County Sheriff's Department, San Bernardino Sheriff's Department, California Highway Patrol, Civil Air Patrol, Costa Mesa Police Department, O.C. Parks and Rangers, San Bernardino County Assn. of Rescue Dogs, Ventura County San Diego, and Victor Valley Search and Rescue.

"This past five days has been the result of a bunch of guys coming together to get the job done," Park said.

He thanked the two families, saying, "They've been very patient with us."

Spitzer cautioned those who hike in the area.

"This is a very beautiful place, but it's a very dangerous place," he said, adding that sometimes people go out to enjoy the area and "act irresponsibly."

The county wants to keep the area open and accessible, but search and rescue efforts require a lot of time and energy, Spitzer said.

Park advised hikers to dress appropriately, bring ample food and water and let others know where they're going to be and to stay on main trails.

— Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Rick Rojas and Daily Pilot Sports Editor Steve Virgen contributed to this report.

jill.cowan@latimes.com, lauren.williams@latimes.com and jamie.rowe@latimes.com

Twitter: @TheDailyPilot

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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