Rescued Hiker: How I Stayed Alive For 4 Days - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Rescued Hiker: How I Stayed Alive For 4 Days

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Mission Viejo, CA -

(FOX 11) Nick Cendoya is home from the hospital and appears to be well on the road to recovery.

And while we won't know how Cendoya's life story will play out for a long time, it does appear he learned more than just how to survive in the mountains.

Sounding much more mature than his 19 years, Cendoya shared his ordeal during the three nights and four days he was lost in Trabuco Canyon.

Severely dehydrated and hurt, he spoke of his fight to stay alive, both the real one and the one he hallucinated. One moment he was fighting imaginary tigers and talking to people who weren't there, while in the next he had the presence of mind to look for droplets of water on plants.

But most importantly, Nick spoke of the lessons learned.

Relying heavily on his faith, he says he prayed. A lot. And spent time reflecting on his life, realizing he needed to change a few things. Spend more time with family; go to church; pay tribute to a dearly departed friend. Prioritize.

At 19, Nick Cendoya has been given the amazing gift of a second chance and it seems that he knows it. Hopefully that gift, that feeling, will stay with him forever and he will make the most of it. For what are close calls and second chances, if they don't leave behind a lesson?

Here's to you Nick!

More On The Story:

(FOX 11 / FOX News Latino / AP) Suffering from extreme hallucination and dehydration, Nicholas Cendoya thought he was on the cusp of death before rescuers finally got to him.

One of two Southern California teens lost for several days in a rugged mountain wilderness, Cendoya was released Sunday from a hospital after being treated for dehydration and minor injuries.

Cendoya told reporters at a brief news conference outside Orange County's Mission Hospital that he knew from the first night he and classmate Kyndall Jack got lost during what was supposed to be a short Easter day hike that death was a strong possibility.

"I honestly felt that I was in the afterlife."- Nicholas Cendoya, Lost Hiker

As the night grew dark in the Cleveland National Forest on March 31 and the pair called 911 on a dying cell phone, Cendoya said he told Jack "If we don't get out of here, we're going to die."

But Cendoya said he never gave up hope that he would be rescued, and as he wandered in chest-high brush, he reflected on what he considered recent selfish behaviors, like focusing too much on himself and not enough on his family.

"I didn't cry. I didn't fear it. I just embraced everything. I said 'This is what I deserve,'" Cendoya said. "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."

As the days passed without food or water, Cendoya grew so weak he said he began having "lucid dreams, lucid hallucinations, every single day."

He said he felt the presence of God and of his best friend who died last year. He began struggling to tell the difference between sleep and waking, and eventually between life and death.

"I honestly felt that I was in the afterlife," Cendoya said.

He was airlifted to the hospital in serious but stable condition.

Jack was discovered Thursday, the fifth day missing, clinging to a rocky outcropping no bigger than a yoga mat on a near-vertical slope. She was being treated at University of California, Irvine Medical Center for dehydration and hypothermia.

The two got lost after wandering off Holy Jim Trail, a popular path in the Cleveland National Forest, where the dangers of 720 square miles of rugged mountain wilderness run up against the planned communities and shopping malls of suburban southeast Orange County.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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