MAUI, Hawaii - Amanda Eller, found alive after being missing for 17 days in a Hawaii reserve, went on social media to thank the people who never gave up searching for her.
“The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days of my life," Eller said. "It’s been a really significant spiritual journey that I was guided on, and there were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up, and it did come down to life and death and I had to choose, and I chose life. I wasn’t going to take the easy way out.”
Eller had not been seen since May 8, when she disappeared after a hike in a Maui Forest Reserve. The reserve is known for its steep and rugged terrain. Eller’s vehicle was found with her cellphone and wallet inside in a parking lot at the reserve.
Eller, a physical therapist who also teaches yoga, was hiking on the Kahakapao Trail when she went missing, KHNL reported. She suffered a fractured leg and did not have shoes, which had been swept away in a flash flood when she was trying to dry them, CNN reported.
Eller said she picked berries and guava to eat and drank water when she believed it was clear enough, CNN reported. She also suffered from severe sunburn.
The rescue team said they found Eller in a deep ravine between two waterfalls during an aerial search Friday afternoon, KHON reported.
I felt in my heart she was alive," Eller's mother, Julia Eller, said at a news conference Saturday. “I never gave up hope for a minute. Even though at times, I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her because I knew we would find her if we just stayed with the program, stayed persistent and that we would eventually find her."
On Facebook, Amanda Eller thanked her rescuers and local residents who helped in the search.
"Just seeing the community of Maui come together — people who know me, people who don't know me all came together. Just under the idea of seeing one person make it out of the woods alive. It warms my heart," she said.
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