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'We Weren't Meant to Die' Hikers Story Has Happy Ending

Image: 'We Weren't Meant to Die' Hikers Story Has Happy Ending Missing hikers now found: Nicholas Cendoya, left, and Kyndall Jack.

By Alexandra Ward   |   Monday, 08 Apr 2013 09:13 AM

The two teenage hikers who went missing Easter Sunday in Southern California's Cleveland National Forest "weren't meant to die," said Nicholas Cendoya, who was rescued Wednesday night. His friend was rescued the next day.

Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, got lost after a day of hiking in the rugged Trabuco Canyon that Sunday. The pair dialed 911 as night fell, but the cell phone's battery died mid-call.

"[Cendoya] was panting and said, 'We're out of water,'" Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Jon Muir told the Los Angeles Times.

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Cendoya estimated that he and Jack were about a mile from their car in Holy Jim Canyon. The distance proved right, but the location he gave the operator was "totally" wrong, Muir said.

After four days of searching by helicopter, infrared sensors, foot, bloodhound, and horseback, searchers spotted Cendoya around 8 p.m. Wednesday. He was severely dehydrated, disoriented, and barefoot, with scratches on his feet and body.

"The last thing I could tell you was going into a lucid dream," Cendoya said during a press conference outside the Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on Sunday. "I can't even tell you when I woke up. I was in lucid dreams and hallucinations for days. I could see the helicopters flying over me every day. When the firefighters came up to me, I couldn't even believe it. We weren't meant to die."

The pair reportedly got separated sometime Sunday night. Jack was rescued from the base of a cliff on Thursday, five days after she went missing.

"I yelled out to her to see if she could see me," rescuer Mike Leum told the Times. "She said she could see me, but I could not see her. She was severely dehydrated. She was confused — she didn’t really know much of anything."

Cendoya was hospitalized and treated for dehydration. He was released Sunday.

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Jack was airlifted to UCI Medical Center and treated for dehydration and hypothermia, according to the Times. She remains in stable condition.

A sheriff's deputy was also rushed to the hospital after falling 60 feet down a hillside while trying to reach Jack. The volunteer deputy, who was not identified, sustained a serious head injury and was being treated in the intensive care unit, officials said. His injuries were not considered life-threatening.

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