Orange County Hiker Rescuers: 'We Got Her'

Orange County Hiker Rescuers: 'We Got Her'

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Long Beach, CA -

(FOX 11) "We've got Kyndall."

Those three little words were what so many had waited 87 very long and anguish-filled hours to hear.

"We've got Kyndall in Air 5."

In a daring and dangerous rescue, LA County Sheriff Deputies aboard Air 5, a sleek state of the art Super Puma Helicopter, rescued 18-year-old Kyndall Jack off the face of a mountain in an Orange County canyon Thursday. Her position was so precarious that one wrong step;  one bad move and this story would have ended much differently.

On Friday, I met the men behind the rescue -- the LA County Sheriff Deputies assigned to Air 5.

When not flying high overhead, most are members of the LASD 's SWAT team, better known as SEB for Special Enforcement Bureau. Others are Reserves; skilled volunteers who aren't paid to risk their lives but they do it anyway. And thank goodness they do.

They're family guys with kids of their own, and while they are pros, they also admitted that yes, they couldn't help but think that Kyndall could have been their kid, their daughter fighting for her life on that mountain.

And they could have well been her desperate dad who didn't know if he would ever see his daughter alive again.

Mike Leum, the reserve chief of the LA County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue teams (who also volunteers to do what seems like a fulltime job), has a 20-year-old daughter himself.

He told me that when he met Kyndall's parents, he did something he had never done before.

He made them a promise.

"I told them we were going to find her; to bring her back to them", he said as I watched him tear up.

Promise made, promise kept.

Thanks to Mike, Jim (Holy Jim!), John, Mark, Scott, Rick, Doug and all those who gave it their all searching for the lost hikers; the men and women who risked their lives in that forest (just ask the Orange County Sheriff Reserve Deputy who fell 60 feet down the mountain while trying to reach Kyndall).

Thanks to them, Nicholas Cendoya and Kyndall Jack at their very young age, have been given a second chance.

And what a gift that is.

 

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