“We Weren't Meant to Die,” Says Rescued Hiker

Nicolas Cendoya released from Mission Hospital on Sunday

When Nicholas Cendoya told his mom he wanted to return next week to the same hiking trail that he and a friend got lost on for four days, prompting a massive search and rescue operation, she had four words for him.

"Over my dead body," Nubia Cendoya said.

She spoke as she and her 19-year-old got ready to leave the hospital on Sunday where he was treated for a concussion, dehydration and cuts since Wednesday night.

Nicholas Cendoya said that he ate and sucked plants to survive and was very much looking forward to going home.

"I'm excited for my first home-cooked meal," he said.

Cendoya and his friend Kyndall Jack got lost during an Easter Hike in the rugged Trabuco Canyon area of the Cleveland National Forest. Cendoya was rescued on Wednesday night. Jack was rescued the next day. She remains hospitalized as does a deputy who fell 60 feet during a rescue attempt.

Cendoya said he was in and out of consciousness during the ordeal.

"The last thing I could tell you was going into a lucid dream," he said during a press conference outside the Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo in Sunday. "I can't even tell you when I woke up. I was in lucid dreams and hallucinations for days.

"I could see the helicopters flying over me every day. When the firefighters came up to me, I couldn't even believe it. We weren't meant to die."

Jack, who was rescued a day after Cendoya and was sent to a different hospital than Cendoya, sent a message to her hiking companion, thanking him for helping both of them survive.

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