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Judge orders rescued California hiker into drug rehab

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 06:44 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2013

SANTA ANA, Calif. >> A lost hiker who was rescued after a costly search in Orange County and later charged with drug crimes won't have to pay restitution but must go through rehabilitation.

District Attorney spokeswoman Farrah Emami says Nic Cendoya pleaded guilty Friday to a felony charge of methamphetamine possession. Emami says Cendoya's case will be dismissed if he completes the program and remains drug-free until January 2015.

Cendoya and companion Kyndall Jack disappeared Easter Sunday after wandering off a trail in Cleveland National Forest. They were found dehydrated and delirious days later. Meth was found in Cendoya's car.

County fire officials had asked that Cendoya pay $55,000 to cover part of the search costs. And a volunteer searcher who fell and broke his back sought $350,000 compensation for medical costs.

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