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Injured volunteer wants thousands from hiker Nicolas Cendoya

Nick Papageorge's IV appears in a Santa Ana courtroom on Wednesday, May 22, 2013.
May 22, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
A volunteer seriously hurt during the rescue of two hikers in Trabuco Canyon wants to recover thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The volunteer, identified as Nick Papageorge's IV, broke his back during the search for Nicolas Cendoya, 19, and Kyndall Jack, 18, in April.

Cendoya appeared in court to face a charge of possession of methamphetamine. Authorities say they found meth in his car during the search-and-rescue operation. The arraignment hearing was continued to July 12.

Papageorge's was in court with his father at Cendoya's hearing to ask a judge for restitution, calling themselves victims of a crime. The family alleges that Cendoya's drug use was reckless and led to the search effort, which led to Papageorge's being injured.

The 20-year-old volunteer said he fell 110 feet, bouncing two times off rocks, and broke his back.

"I have two titanium rods on either side of my spine with 11 screws," Papageorge's said, holding up an X-ray of his back.

His medical bills add up to $350,000, and his insurance will only cover a portion of it, according to an attorney.

A judge will decide whether there's a connection between Cendoya's alleged drug use and the injuries suffered by Papageorge's.


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