SANTA ANA (CBS/AP) — A volunteer searcher who broke his back while looking for a teenage hiker who was lost in the Orange County wilderness wants restitution if the teen is convicted on drug charges.
Nineteen-year-old Nic Cendoya was in a Santa Ana courtroom Wednesday, charged with possession of methamphetamine. Investigators say they found the drugs in his car during last month’s search for Cendoya and his 18-year-old friend, Kyndall Jack.
Also in court was 20-year-old volunteer Nick Papageorge, who was nearly killed searching for the lost hikers in the woods of Trabuco Canyon.
While searching with other volunteers, Papageorge says he fell 110 feet and bounced off a rocky cliff twice, breaking his back.
Papageorge was airlifted to a local hospital where he underwent surgery for several back injuries, running up medical bills of at least $350,000.
The 20-year-old spoke to reporters Wednesday, thankful he’s alive but acknowledging the long recovery ahead.