OC Fire Authority Seeks $55k as “Victim” of “Crime” by Rescued Teen Hiker Nic Cendoya

Under Marsy's Law, the California Victims Bill of Rights championed by county Supervisor Todd Spitzer, the Orange County Fire Authority wants $55,000 spent to rescue teenage hikers who got lost in Trabuco Canyon Easter Sunday.

A legal brief to that end the OCFA filed Wednesday contains this bombshell: Nicolas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, allegedly admitted taking hallucinogenic drugs before and during their hike.


It's worth noting that both teens, from their respective hospitals, talked of visions they saw while lost, parched and separated. Heck, the fact they were lost for days in a relatively easy area to hike caused much speculation in the Navel Gazing peanut gallery that they must've been on something.

It's also worth nothing that Spitzer came down hard on the Costa Mesa pair immediately after their ordeal–and before it was disclosed publicly that the rescue cost government agencies $160,000 and that sheriff's deputies had allegedly found methamphetamine in Cendoya's car while he was still lost.

A law that would have allowed recovery of the full $160,000 expired in 1999, but the Orange County Board of Supervisors Spitzer sits on approved a draft of a bill they want Assemblyman Don Wagner (R-Irvine) to sponsor so counties can once again receive that kind of compensation.

The OCFA maintains it is entitled to recover its chunk of costs from the rescue operation because of a law that is already on the books. Under Marsy's Law, the agency's lawyers contend, it is a victim of the crime Cendoya has been charged with: possession of 497 milligrams of meth.

“People have got to be careful,” OCFA Division Chief Kris Concepcion tells City News Service. “It is not a victimless crime as some people might think, because it caused a great deal of not just cost, but as you know, it resulted in injuries to a couple of people while they were out looking for Nic Cendoya. If it weren't for his criminal activity we wouldn't be doing that.”

Nick Papageorge's, a 20-year-old volunteer who helped in the search, is also using Marsy's Law to seek financial compensation for his back surgery and a week in the hospital he says cost about $350,000. He had titanium screws put in his back after he fell about 110 feet from a cliff.

The judge could consider the Marsy's Law claims at Cendoya's scheduled July 12 arraignment.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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