L.A.-area hikers may have to pay portion of $160,000 manhunt after drugs were found in their car

By Kay Steiger
Friday, May 3, 2013 15:13 EDT
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Nicolas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack screenshot via KTLA
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Orange County officials are considering requiring two hikers to pay for a portion — or even all — of a $160,000 search party after a small amount of methamphetamine was found in their car, according to a Thursday report in the Los Angeles Times.

Nicolas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, got lost while on an Easter Sunday hike in Trabuco Canyon near Los Angeles. With little water, they called authorities to report their status before losing cell phone service.

After a multi-agency and days-long manhunt, the pair of hikers were recovered, with Jack reporting hallucinations and Cendoya reporting that he believed he was “in the afterlife” and had picked up a sharp stick for defense against what he thought were predators. Both were hospitalized after being found and were treated for dehydration.

Now officials report that two days into the search they found 497 milligrams of meth in their green BMW, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

“Why in the world didn’t we know that methamphetamine was found in the car?” Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer asked in an interview with CBS Los Angeles.

After saying he had been a cop and a prosector, Spitzer told KTLA, “I just knew they were up to something hinky.” He told the Times he believes they went out there to get high.

Now, Cendoya is facing drug charges and officials have yet to decide for what other portion of the search he and Jack will be held accountable. Though the sheriff’s office said on Tuesday that the couple wouldn’t face a bill for the hunt, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department said in an email to the Times, “The recent drug charge on Cendoya may change things.”

Watch the report from CBS Los Angeles, broadcast on May 1.

Watch the report from KTLA, broadcast May 2.

Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger
Kay Steiger is the managing editor of Raw Story. Her contributions have appeared in The American Prospect, The Atlantic, Campus Progress, The Guardian, In These Times, Jezebel, Religion Dispatches, RH Reality Check, and others. You can follow her on Twitter @kaysteiger.
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