Orange County won't bill hikers for $160,000 rescue

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Orange County Supervisors have concluded they don't have the authority to bill two young hikers for the $160,000 it cost to rescue them last month. 

Rescuers from six different agencies spent five days combing the rugged hills of Trabuco Canyon. Friends and family rejoiced when Nicolas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack were finally found. But for some, that relief quickly turned to anger when authorities announced they found meth in Cendoya's parked car. He was later arrested.

Some suggested the pair should reimburse the government for the costs involved in finding them.

RELATED: Who should cover the cost of rescuing a lost hiker?

But on Tuesday, Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach said under California law, the county doesn't have the authority to recover those costs.

"Currently the rules state that if someone needs to get rescued, they get rescued. And it's just part of doing business in the county," said Moorlach.

That may not be true for long.  Moorlach said supervisors may take up legislation as soon as next week that would allow the county to go after costs for future rescues.

Also next week, Cendoya is due in court next week to answer to one felony count of possession of a controlled substance.

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