Injured Volunteer Searcher Settles Lawsuit with Hiker Who Went Missing in Trabuco Canyon

Hikers Nicholas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack went missing on Easter Sunday 2013.
Hikers Nicholas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack went missing on Easter Sunday 2013.
Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Department

A volunteer searcher, who fell off a 110-foot cliff and broke his back while looking for two missing hikers in Trabuco Canyon, settled his lawsuit against one of them.

Nick Papageorge's--yes, trolls, that is how the last name is spelled--settled his suit with hiker Kyndall Jack for an undisclosed sum and is due back in court Feb. 27 to dismiss the case, his lawyer has confirmed.

Nick Papageorge's, Volunteer Whose Spine Broke Searching for Kyndall Jack, Sues Hiker

Papageorge's lawyer Eric Dubin says in a report by City News Service and the Orange County Register that his client is "fully recovered and feeling great."

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Costa Mesa pals Jack and Nicholas Cendoya, who were 18 and 19 at the time, set out on a relatively easy hike through Cleveland National Forest but made an emergency call via a cell phone that night informing they were lost. The phone's battery died after that. They had brought not water and were not dressed for the chilly canyon nights.

Papageorge's was among and army of friends, family and total strangers who helped law enforcement search for the pair. Cendoya was found weak and dehydrated on his fourth night in the canyon. Before Jack was discovered in a similar condition the next morning--April 4, 2013--Papageorge's tumbled down a cliff and fractured his spine. The injury required two titanium rods and 11 metal screws in his back.

It later came out that responding sheriff's deputies had found methamphetamine in Cendoya's car parked in the nature preserve's parking lot. He went on to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of a controlled substance and was ordered to complete a drug treatment program to get the offense wiped from his record.

Papageorge's lawsuit filed in June claimed Jack and Cendoya "headed out unprepared and unqualified to a remote and dangerous mountain area with the intent to take hallucinogenic drugs, knowing the likelihood of becoming disoriented, lost and requiring the subject rescue."

Jack's "willful conduct of placing herself in a recklessly dangerous situation caused the subject injury and devastation to plaintiff," the suit alleged.

Dubin claimed when the suit was filed that his client's medical expenses exceeded $500,000 and that he hoped Jack had insurance to defray some costs.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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