Turns Out the 'Hallucinating' Lost Hiker Had Meth in Car

May have been high during $160K taxpayer-funded rescue

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted May 2, 2013 7:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – Hiker Nicolas Cendoya might be regretting those interviews he gave about having "lucid dreams, lucid hallucinations" while being lost for three days in a Southern California national forest last month. The 19-year-old and a friend were eventually rescued, but police have now arrested Cendoya for felony drug possession after finding 497 milligrams of meth in his car, which was parked at the trailhead where the pair went missing, the Orange County Register reports.

One Orange County supervisor has accused the teens—who he claims already admitted to using what they thought was cocaine on the hike—of acting in "a reckless way." He questions why taxpayers should have to foot the estimated $160,000 bill for their rescue, which took four days and left one person seriously injured. But another official says even if they were high, the teens should not be charged for their own rescue. "What's going to be next? Lifeguards don't save people if they have been out drinking?" he said. Cendoya faces up to three years in jail.

Nicolas Cendoya, 19, of Costa Mesa, credits God for rescuing him after being released from Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, California.   (AP Photo/The Orange County Register, Cindy Yamanaka)
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