The first of two rescued Trabuco Canyon hikers to be released from the hospital had something to say Sunday.
So have many critics of Nicholas Cendoya; more on that later.
First, Mission Viejo's Mission Hospital released a photo and statement from the 19-year-old, who later gave a press conference before finally heading home to Costa Mesa.
Here is the statement the hospital released:
There are so many people to thank. I want to thank all those who never stopped trying to find me and Kyndall [Jack], especially Amanda and her friends who were the ones to find me. To my parents, friends and family--so many supporters I didn't even know I had. Thanks to all the nurses and doctors here at Mission for the great care I've gotten.
I want to thank the officer for risking his life to save Kyndall, and wish him the best in his recovery. I also want to thank the firefighters who climbed up to save me. And, I want to thank the media for keeping attention on us to help get us rescued.
The whole time I was lost, I felt the presence of Jesus and my friend, Carlos, who died last year of cancer. I felt they were both with me, inspiring me to stay alive. I was so relieved to hear that Kyndall was found and will be okay. I can't wait to see her face-to-face and give her a big hug. I just want to see for myself that she's okay.
Later, at the press conference outside Mission Hospital, Cendoya explained he and Jack decided to hang out for the first time by going "on an Easter adventure" to Holy Jim Trail, which is popular with Trabuco Canyon day hikers. But they would get lost, only get a couple cellphone help calls off before the battery died and then, heading down the mountain, get separated.
Cendoya would fall.
"I just remember going into a lucid dream," he said. "I fell and I was unconscious."
Doctors later said he'd suffered blunt-force trauma to a lung, which caused him to suffer amnesia. The teen has trouble now remembering how exactly he and Jack separated. But now Cendoya feels, "We weren't meant to die." He'd eaten plants and hallucinated about tigers coming and having died and living his afterlife before he the was the first to be rescued Wednesday evening, shoeless, confused and dehydrated.
His story was portrayed by the media in a positive light, but several online versions have received negative comments from people, who wonder: 1) How anyone manages to get lost in Trabuco Canyon; 2) How the pair got separated; and, 3) Why the young man did not stick with the 18-year-old woman. These are questions that have been lodged all along, as evidenced by those under our original report:
If Jack is upset about being left alone, she apparently has not indicated such publicly from her hospital bed at UCI Medical Center in Orange, where she has been treated for dehydration and hypothermia and since being found late Thursday morning.
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It was reported when Cendoya was found he'd told rescuers he'd thought Jack had already been saved. Those who found Jack said she had not recollection of having been with Cendoya. She later recalled him reassuring her everything would be OK, and in a Facebook message to Cendoya from her hospital bed that was read by him at the press conference, she wrote, "All I think about is you, it's hard to make sense of it all."
She may want to do that think from afar when Cendoya embarks on his next adventure. He wants to return to Holy Jim Trail to reexamine the terrain, stitch together his confused memories and try to figure out what went wrong to keep the ordeal from haunting him.
Charge up those cell phone batteries now.