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Injured volunteer searcher seeks payment from lost hiker in Calif.

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 04:36 a.m. HST, May 23, 2013

SANTA ANA, Calif. » A volunteer searcher who broke his back while looking for a teenager who was lost in Orange County wilderness says he deserves restitution if the teen is convicted on drug charges.

Nick Papageorge, 20, said after Nic Cendoya's arraignment was postponed Wednesday that his medical bills could total $350,000, City News Service reported.

Papageorge searched Trabuco Canyon's woods with other members of the Orange County sheriff's volunteer search team when Cendoya, 19, and his friend Kyndall Jack, 18, went missing on Easter Sunday.

They called for help after wandering off trail in the Cleveland National Forest. Cendoya was found three days later and Jack was found the following day. Both were dehydrated and delirious.

Papageorge says that while searching for the pair, he fell 110 feet in the steep terrain and bounced off a rocky cliff twice, breaking his back.

Papageorge displayed X-rays of his injured back Wednesday, saying doctors implanted two titanium rods and 11 screws to repair his spine.

"I start physical therapy this week and I'm very thankful to be here," said Papageorge, adding that he doesn't wish ill on Cendoya.

Authorities said methamphetamine was found in Cendoya's car as they investigated the pair's disappearance. If convicted of felony drug possession, he could get up to three years in prison.

The search for Cendoya and Jack cost Orange County an estimated $160,000. Last week, county officials decided they don't have the authority to seek reimbursement from the pair, but they're now seeking to change that.

Supervisors voted Tuesday to propose state legislation that would charge reckless people for the cost of rescuing them. Assemblyman Don Wagner has agreed to carry a bill, which permits counties and cities to recover rescue costs for people who put themselves in peril through illegal or reckless acts.

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lokela wrote:
Saving druggies? Oh yeah I would seek compensation....
on May 22,2013 | 07:02PM
Randz808 wrote:
If they volunteered, they cannot get restitution.
on May 22,2013 | 08:16PM
SteveToo wrote:
on May 22,2013 | 09:43PM
environmental_lady wrote:
So, punish the volunteers? That will drastically cut back volunteering in the future. Yes, he should get restitution though I doubt those drugged bozos can afford to pay anything unless their parents are rich.
on May 23,2013 | 09:30AM
false wrote:
You're kidding right?
on May 23,2013 | 09:43AM
cojef wrote:
The local government should be compensated for expenses in the search efforts, under any circumstances. Hiking into remote is an option and should be undertaken at one's own risks.
on May 23,2013 | 05:47AM
false wrote:
Did someone force him to go? Was he promised compensation for his volunteer efforts? You're out of luck buddy. Next time you'll know better.
on May 23,2013 | 09:43AM
Ripoff wrote:
Um...."volunteer" is the key word...
on May 23,2013 | 11:13AM
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