Orange County News

Rescuers of Trabuco Canyon lost hikers speak out

Thursday, April 04, 2013

It was like finding not one, but two needles in a haystack. Rescuers spotted Kyndall Jack clinging to a rocky ledge, surrounded by thick brush.

The 18-year-old was weak and losing consciousness as she was hoisted out of Trabuco Canyon on Thursday. She was found not far from the steep terrain that also stranded her friend, Nick Cendoya.

"The way we found Nick was not because we saw him, not because he saw us, but because where we were, a one in a million chance, echoed the right way," said volunteer rescuer Ted Sindzinski.

Experienced hikers Sindzinski and Matthew Cordova teamed up with Cendoya's childhood friend, Amanda Phipps, to look for the missing 19-year-old. As the sun was setting Wednesday night, the volunteers heard a man's voice call out for a helicopter.

"We screamed back out hello, and we get an immediate response, 'Help,'" said Sindzinski.

"We start asking him a few questions, 'Hey how long have you been up there?' He said, 'I've been up there for a few days.' We asked if he was alone, and he said he was alone but he didn't know where he was," said Cordova.

They flagged down Orange County firefighters who were not involved in the search but just happened to be nearby. While help was on the way, Phipps let her voice carry across the canyon to comfort Cendoya. She says he was as thirsty and disoriented.

"Apparently he thought he was in Newport Beach at one point, so he was just really out of it, but we just kept telling him to keep calm, and that people were on their way up, and to stay where he was and let him know that we love him," said Phipps.

Cendoya was airlifted to Mission Hospital in serious condition. Jack was listed in good condition at UCI Medical Center. Both are being treated for dehydration.

It is still unknown how they got separated on Easter and ended up off the trail. For the volunteers, they can finally relax knowing their persistence likely saved two lives.

"I'm glad that we were able to find him and they were able to search in that area to find her," said Phipps.

Both teens are expected to make a full recovery.

(Copyright ©2014 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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missing person, orange county news, melissa macbride
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