By: Chris Nguyen
On March 31, Costa Mesa residents Nicholas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, went missing in the Trabuco Canyon. After a massive search by the Orange County Fire Authority, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, OC Parks, and several other agencies, including both paid personnel and unpaid reservists, Cendoya was found after four days and Jack after five days.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer asked County Counsel and Risk Management to investigate as to whether any civil liability was warranted for the costs of the rescue or for the injuries sustained by a Deputy Sheriff who was part of the search and rescue effort. Subsequently, Cendoya was charged with possession of a controlled substance based on methamphetamines found in his car during the March 31 search. He will be arraigned on May 22.
“These two young people caused their own peril, setting in motion a whole series of events that have now cost the taxpayers an enormous sum of money and caused significant injuries to a deputy sheriff,” Spitzer said. “If the investigation finds they were responsible, they should owe significant restitution, especially if they were engaged in illegal activity.”
Current estimates find the cost of the search and rescue to be $160,000, though that number is significantly underestimated, and the costs may rise to $300,000. The search and rescue cost the Orange County Fire Authority at least $55,000, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department at least $32,000, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at least $58,000, and at least $15,000 combined from OC Parks, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Emergency Management Agency.
“Taxpayer funded searches and rescues are intended for accidents, not for ‘on purposes’ that are a result of negligence or criminal activity,” Spitzer said. “If there is a conviction, then the County of Orange and other government agencies are victims of a crime under Marsy’s Law.”
Click here for the story “Authorities Allegedly Found Meth in Car of Rescued OC Hiker During Days-Long Search” from CBS 2/KCAL 9.