Rescued Hiker Thought She Was ‘Being Eaten by a Python’
(IRVINE, Calif.) — The second of two hikers rescued in the rough California terrain says she remembers eating dirt and hallucinating that a snake was eating her during nearly five days of wandering in the wilderness with her male companion.
Kyndall Jack, 18, was released from UC Irvine Medical Center on Monday, after she was found shoeless and clinging to a ledge last Thursday.
Jack, still in a wheelchair, said she is recovering from frostbite on her hand and does not have full mobility. She suffered cuts and bruises on her legs that still make walking difficult.
“I definitely gave up hope,” Kyndall said to a group of reporters. “There were some times I didn’t think I was going to make it.”
Nicolas Cendoya, 19, and Jack went hiking near Trabuco Canyon, Calif., on March 31. When they failed to return, officials launched a search effort.
“I don’t remember drinking anything,” Jack said. “I know I ate dirt. I tried to eat some dirt and rocks. I came to the hospital with a big mouthful of dirt and that’s all I remember.”
With no food or water, Jack said hallucinations started to set in of her fending off wild animals.
“My parents were in jail half the time, in my mind, and I was searching for my little sister, so that’s all I remember,” Jack said. “I was being eaten by a python. Like Nick saw a tiger, I was being eaten by a python half the time.”
The two hikers had set off Easter Sunday in Trabuco Canyon in Southern California as a first date. Cendoya, who was released from the Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo on Sunday, said they embarked on a six-hour climb up a mountain when they realized they had no water left.
“We wanted to touch the clouds,” Jack said. “That’s why we went up there. We wanted to be in the clouds at the top.”
In the newly released 911 call, Cendoya sounds panicked and incoherent.
“We have fire I mean,” Cendoya told the 911 operator. “I mean we have a lighter or something we can light something up. I don’ t know.”
In another piece of the 911 call, Cendoya and Jack argue over their location.
“Stop for one second. What is the address?” Cendoya can be overheard saying to Jack.
“I don’t know,” she responds.
The cellphone battery died before the dispatchers could track the signal. That’s when the pair started to panic, according to Cendoya.
“I said just hold onto me. Let’s go back down the canyon,” Cendoya said Sunday after being released from the hospital. “And I must’ve fallen. And I don’t know if Kyndall took a fall and was unconscious. “
After the two became separated, they didn’t even know whether the other survived.
Cendoya was barefoot, shirtless and disoriented when he was found last Wednesday. Jack was found hours later the next morning hanging from a rocky ledge no bigger than a yoga mat.
Jack said Cendoya visited her at the hospital to try to piece together how their one-day hike went so badly off track. The pair are still not 100 percent sure why or exactly how they separated while hiking.
“I honestly didn’t even know I was missing, I didn’t know I was gone, I didn’t know anything was going on,” Jack said. “I just thought I was in a big dream.”
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