Missing Male Hiker Rescued from Trabuco Canyon; UPDATE 2: Female Hiker Rescued!

UPDATE: The OC Register, in a wise decision to ease its embargo, reports the Kyndall Jack has been located and that rescue operations are underway: “Searchers have found Kyndall Jack, the 18-year-old hiker who has been missing since Sunday evening, according to an official involved in the search. A rescue is under way.”

UPDATE 2: Matt Coker’s coverage in the Weekly is, as is not unusual for him, quite good.  Check out the updates in particular.  I’d be surprised if the Orange Lady herself had anything much better or quicker on this, except perhaps for better photos and graphics.


Missing 19-year-old hiker Nicholas Cendoya was airlifted out of  Trabuco Canyon at around 9:30 last night, a couple of hours after initially being located.  He is reportedly suffering from exposure and was dehydrated and confused.  He was airlifted to Mission Hospital, where he was able to walk off of the helicopter on his own power.

His hiking companion, 18-year old Kyndall Jack, has apparently not yet been located.  Cendoya told authorities that she was near where he had been rescued, which was near the Holy Jim Trail area north of Rancho Santa Margarita, about a half-mile from where their car had been parked.  The steepness of this area of the canyon, evident in the photo below taken from the Holy Jim Trail Facebook Page, and the substantial tree cover have hampered the efforts of searchers.

Holy Jim Trail

Photo submitted to the Holy Jim Trail Facebook page, giving a sense of its terrain. (Link to page is in the story.)

The Los Angeles Times reports that Cendoya and Jack had set out on Easter Sunday to hike:

the rocky, tree-shaded dirt trail … [which] leads to a waterfall. The 2.8-mile round trip is popular with day hikers. Its difficulty is listed as moderate to serious on a U.S. Forest Service website. Jack and Cendoya, however, ‘did not keep to the trail,’ Orange County sheriff’s Lt. Erin Guidice said.

Comments on Facebook noted the presence of a steep side trail near the falls and speculated that the pair might have taken it.

According to KTLA Channel 5’s earlier reporting:

The pair contacted authorities via cellphone around 8:30 p.m. Sunday asking for help.

They told deputies they believed they were about a mile from their car, but they couldn’t find their way back.

Authorities have located their car, a green BMW, but so far have not been able to locate the hikers.

Their cellphone battery died before authorities were able to get an accurate GPS location for the pair.

Following Cendoya’s rescue, an Orange County Sheriff’s spokesperson said that they expected to find Jack as well.  Jack’s mother, Dawn Jack, was quoted by NBC-LA as expressing thanks to volunteer searchers but also concern about inexperienced rescuers putting themselves in danger as well:

“We just need our children to come home safely,” Dawn Jack said. “We need for everybody else to leave here safe, so please help us out now by not coming up just to hang out … we know you love us and are supporting us.”

Costa Mesa School Board Member Katrina Foley has been following the story closely, and apparently in touch with the families of the missing hikers.  She posted an appreciation amplifying this concern earlier on Wednesday:

Friends… while the families are incredibly appreciative of all of the help today, it is at the point where ONLY experienced hikers and public safety volunteers are helpful. The family knows you care and support them, but they cannot have anyone hanging out at the command center or hiking if they are not experienced because now the rescuers are rescuing volunteers. Thanks again for all the help. The families truly appreciate it. Search continues.

Visitors to the OC Register‘s website after midnight were greeted with a headline stating: “Male hiker found alive in Holy Jim area.”  Subscribers to the Register were able to click through and read the story.  Those of us who are not subscribers received nothing more than the headline and an invitation to subscribe.

[Note (pre-updates): Personally, as one interested in the story and particularly in this positive development, I am appreciative of the attention paid to it by Facebook friends (such as Foley), whose links allowed the construction of this piece on this high-visibility local story — one not requiring substantial investigative resources, but nevertheless probably of substantial local interest.  – G.A.D.]

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose attorney, semi-retired due to disability, residing in northwest Brea. Occasionally runs for office against bad people who would otherwise go unopposed. Got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012; Josh Newman then won the seat in 2016. In 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002; Todd Spitzer then won that seat in 2018. Every time he's run against some rotten incumbent, the *next* person to challenge them wins! He's OK with that. Corrupt party hacks hate him. He's OK with that too. He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)