The Associated Press

Volunteer Sues Found Hiker After Breaking Back in Search

A rescue volunteer who fell 100 feet off a cliff and broke his back has filed a lawsuit against one of two hikers who were lost in the Orange County wilderness last year.

Nick Papageorge’s IV had titanium rods and 11 screws placed in his spine after bouncing off a cliff twice and crushing some of his vertebrae. The lawsuit looks to recover about $500,000 in medical costs from missing hiker Kyndall Jack, the Associated Press Reports.

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Jack and Nicolas Cendoya were headed on the Holy Jim Canyon in the Cleveland National Forest on Easter before getting separated at night with a single bottle of water and no warm clothing. The Costa Mesa pair were found dehydrated, hallucinating and delirious hours apart after the days-long search in April 2013.

Cendoya later pleaded guilty to drug possession after authorities found 497 milligrams of methamphetamine inside his car. Papageorge’s had tried to seek $360,000 in restitution from Cendoya under Marsy’s Law, which provides rights to victims of crimes.

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The lawsuit claims that Jack was unprepared for the hike and had intended to take hallucinogens. It was unclear why Cendoya was not named in the lawsuit.

Papageorge's said in July 2013 that he had heard rumors the two hikers had been using drugs before getting lost in the canyon, but it did not discourage him from joining the search.

“I would go out and do it again," he said, adding, “I'm not angry... We all make mistakes.”

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