Search and Rescue Costs: Who Pays? | NBC Southern California

Search and Rescue Costs: Who Pays?

An inside look at who is responsible in search and rescue efforts



    (Published Monday, April 8, 2013)

    Nicolas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack were rescued for days lost in the Southern California wilderness. But, how much did it cost to recruit all those search and rescue teams to save them?

    Helicopters were dispatched from throughout the Southland at a cost of $2,500 an hour. Search and rescue crews came from as far away as San Diego County. And, the volunteer manpower numbered in the hundreds.

    The Orange County Fire Authority is calculating how much money was spent on the ‘round the clock search. They assigned only 10 people to organize the efforts. It was one of their volunteer crews that helped locate Cendoya.

    The Orange County Sheriff’s Department said many of the searchers were reservists, who volunteer with the department for no pay. The other boots on the ground are so-called “managers” who do not get paid overtime.

    Lost Hikers' Plead For Help in 911 Call

    [LA] Lost Hikers' Plead For Help in 911 Call
    The 911 call Nicholas Cendoya made from Trabuco Canyon when he and Kyndall Jack became lost and tried to get help was finally released. For more than 20 minutes, the two talked with operators. In those minutes, even before Cendoya realized his battery was going low, you can hear the desperation and fear building. Lucy Noland reports for the NBC4 News on April 8, 2013.
    (Published Monday, April 8, 2013)

    This time, it is unlikely the hikers will be charged for the search costs.

    “If there was an intentional criminal act, then they could be charged,” said Sheriff’s spokesman Jim Amormino. “But, I don’t believe there was.”

    Megan Shounia was the last person to see the Costa Mesa teens before they went missing. She questions whether the pair fully understood what went into finding them.

    Costs For Massive Hiker Rescue Being Tallied

    [LA] Costs For Massive Hiker Rescue Being Tallied
    The two Costa Mesa teens who went missing in Trabuco Canyon are alive and recovering, but how much did their rescue cost? Orange County fire authorities are calculating the final totals on the round-the-clock search for the teens. It is unlikely the hikers will be charged for the search costs. Vikki Vargas reports from Trabuco Canyon for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 9, 2013.
    (Published Tuesday, April 9, 2013)

    “They said they were hallucinating and dehydrated," she said. "Probably didn’t realize how many Marines were trying to save them."

    A California state law lets certain agencies, like fire departments, recover the cost of responding to a fire.

    If they determine a person has caused a fire because of negligence or has violated the law, that person is responsible and may be liable for the costs.

    But, the department itself would have to pursue those cases to recover the costs.