Nicolas Cendoya, Kyndall Jack Again Off the Hook for $160k Trabuco Canyon Rescue Tab
See Update No. 2 on page 2 about the Orange County Board of Supervisors deciding behind closed doors not to charge the rescued hikers for the $160,000 in various government costs.
See Update No. 1 on the next page with the county considering sticking the teens with the tab if a sheriff's department investigation concludes they were on drugs.
Nicolas Cendoya, the Costa Mesa 19-year-old who along with 18-year-old friend Kyndall Jack got lost and sparked a massive search in Trabuco Canyon last month, has been charged with felony possession of methamphetamine found in his car during the hike, according to authorities.
He is scheduled to be arraigned May 22 in Santa Ana.
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Jack, who said upon her release from the hospital the ordeal would prompt her to make changes in her life, has not been charged with a crime.
While deputies on April 2 were searching for information on Cendoya, who went missing with Jack on Easter Sunday, they discovered methamphetamine, according to the Orange County Sheriff's Department.
A City News Service report has a district attorney's office spokesperson alleging 497 milligrams of meth were found.
Both Jack and Cendoya talked of hallucinating during their five-day ordeal. After his rescue, Cendoya talked a lot about God and becoming a firefighter so he could rescue others, a dream that could be dashed with a felony holding rap on one's record.
Earlier today, we Navel Gazed about the search and rescue operation costing government agencies $160,000.
County Supervisor Todd Spitzer, whose sprawling district includes Trabuco Canyon, has launched an investigation into whether Jack and Cendoya should be liable for the rescue costs.
"Why do I have to pay for someone's negligence?" Spitzer asks in that post.
Asked Tuesday by KNBC/Channel 4 if he was on drugs during the hike, Cendoya reportedly replied, "Absolutely not."
UPDATE NO. 1, MAY 2, 2:58 P.M.: The Orange County Sheriff's Department has released a statement indicating county leaders are looking into whether Jack and Cendoya should pony up rescue costs if it is determined the teens were on drugs when they got lost in Trabuco Canyon:
The Search and Rescue Operation of Lost Hikers in Trabuco Canyon
SANTA ANA, CA - (May 2, 2013) - The Orange County Sheriff's Department's primary focus during this incident was to locate and rescue the missing hikers. As a component of that mission, various investigative details were brought in to assist with interviews and intelligence gathering that would help in locating them as quickly as possible. Previous statements relating to this operation focused on the rescue and safety of the hikers, not on any potential criminal acts.
Once both hikers were located, rescued, and received medical treatment, subsequent interviews of both individuals were completed and additional investigative follow-up was conducted. The case, which included narcotics found during a vehicle search, was presented to the District Attorney's Office for filing considerations.
The County is evaluating the emergency response to this incident to determine if costs should be recovered from the hikers. That evaluation will include whether or not drug use was a factor in them becoming lost, thus necessitating the rescue effort by public safety personnel. Regardless of the factors associated with the hikers becoming lost, the Sheriff's Department is proud of the diligent efforts of the personnel who successfully located them and returned them safely home.
Nicolas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack
UPDATE NO. 2, MAY 16, 7:30 A.M.: The Orange County Board of Supervisors decided behind closed doors Tuesday not to stick rescued teen hikers Nicolas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack with the $160,000 government tab to pluck them out of rugged Trabuco Canyon last month.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer, whose district includes Trabuco Canyon, had strongly called for looking into charging the pair for the costs, a call that intensified after the sheriff's department disclosed a small amount of meth was found in Cendoya's car parked in the canyon.
County officials then indicated the teens might be charged if it was determined they had been on drugs when they got lost, but board Chairman Shawn Nelson indicated Tuesday there is no legal way to force a reimbursement.
Not that there will be no cost to at least one of the teens in another way: Cendoya could get three years in prison if convicted of felony possession.
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