SANTA ANA (CBSLA.com) — A 19-year-old man who got lost with his friend in Trabuco Canyon in Orange County is facing a drug charge after authorities reportedly found methamphetamine in his car during the massive, days-long search for the pair.
Nicolas Cendoya was charged Tuesday with one felony count of possession of a controlled substance.
Sheriff’s investigators said they found 497 milligrams of meth in Cendoya’s vehicle April 2 while looking for him and Kyndall Jack, who both went missing on a hike Easter Sunday.
Cendoya was discovered April 3. Jack was found the next day.
Both said they didn’t remember much of their ordeal except vivid hallucinations.
The search for Cendoya and Jack cost taxpayers an estimated $160,000.
Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said the teens should be on the hook for the rescue costs, and called on authorities to provide more information about the drug allegation.
“Why in the world didn’t we know about the fact that meth was found in the car? The question tonight is… are they responsible for paying and reimbursing the taxpayers for the costs associated with their rescue?” he said.
Spitzer added, “To me, it’s not whether they pay $1. It’s the fact that they’re held accountable for their actions. Did they set a series of events in motion… that because of their own stupidity …caused all the rescuers to come out there for four days?”
The sheriff’s department released a written statement Wednesday that said, “In the search for the missing hikers in Trabuco Canyon, (the sheriff’s) initial investigation was focused on locating the hikers. Subsequent investigation led to criminal charges of drug possession.”
Cendoya is scheduled to be arraigned May 22. If convicted, he faces up to three years behind bars.
KCAL9’s Serene Branson said she tried to reach out to Cendoya for comment, but he made it clear, using expletives, that he didn’t want to be interviewed.