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Calif. hiker lost for days released from hospital

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By The Associated Press
Sunday, April 7, 2013, 7:54 p.m.

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. — One of two Southern California teens lost for several days in a rugged mountain wilderness was released on Sunday from a hospital since being treated for dehydration and minor injuries.

Nicolas Cendoya said he hallucinated but never gave up hope that he would be rescued during his ordeal that began with a planned short day hike on Easter with a friend.

While wandering in chest-high brush, Cendoya reflected on what he considered recent selfish behaviors, like focusing too much on himself and not enough on his family.

“So that's why when all this happened; I didn't cry, I didn't fear it. I just embraced everything. I said, ‘This is what I deserve,' ” Cendoya said outside Orange County's Mission Hospital. “I just knew I would get through it. I knew this wasn't my time to die. I knew that I needed this, to become the person that I'm supposed to be.”

The 19-year-old's comments were broadcast by KNX Radio.

Cendoya was found late Wednesday when spotted by hikers in Cleveland National Forest. He was airlifted to the hospital in serious but stable condition. On Friday, the hospital released a photo a smiling Cendoya pointing his thumb up.

His friend, 18-year-old Kyndall Jack, was discovered on Thursday clinging to a rocky outcropping no bigger than a yoga mat on a near-vertical slope. She was being treated in University of California, Irvine Medical Center for dehydration and hypothermia.

The two had gone missing on Easter, when they called 911 to report they were lost and out of water after wandering off Holy Jim Trail during what they expected would be an easy day hike.

The popular trail is in the Cleveland National Forest, where the dangers of 720 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness run smack up against the planned communities and shopping malls of suburban southeast Orange County.

A reserve deputy who slipped and fell 10 feet, hitting his chest on a rock before falling another 50 feet and hitting his head, was listed in serious condition, The Orange County Register reported Friday. A San Bernardino County Sheriff's search and rescue coordinator said the deputy suffered cuts to his head, a punctured lung and broken ribs.

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