The 35-year-old yoga instructor who disappeared during a routine hike in Hawaii was rescued Friday via helicopter, 16 days after she went missing.
Amanda Eller, who was injured and dehydrated, was spotted deep in a forest by a group of rescuers that had been hired by her family to help track her down, according to the Facebook page launched to aid in the search.
“She got lost and was stuck and slightly injured in the forest – way way out. Somewhere way far above Twin Falls,” the post read. “Between two waterfalls down a deep ravine in a creek bed. Chris [Berquist] and Javier [Cantellops] spotted her and she spotted them, waving them down. She is being air evacuated now. She just talked to her father on the phone. Amanda Eller is ALIVE!!”
A photo shared to the page shows the extent of Eller’s injuries, including extremely swollen and bruised feet and ankles.
Eller’s father John Eller told KITV 4 his daughter was able to walk for the first five to eight days of her disappearance, and simply got lost in the terrain as she tried to make her way back.
“She figured it out, she was smart, she was strong, she was prepared,” he said. “We said that in the beginning, and it was absolutely true.”
Though Eller was dehydrated and sunburnt, her family told the outlet she was “physically okay” and able to speak, and was recovering at a local hospital.
Eller happily smiled for a selfie alongside her rescuers Berquist, Cantellops, and Troy Helmer in a photo shared to Facebook.
Maui Police and Fire had previously called off the search, prompting Eller’s friends and family to hire a private helicopter paid for with donations raised from a GoFundMe page.
It was that helicopter that ultimately found her.
“BECAUSE YOU DID NOT GIVE UP!!!!! BECAUSE THIS COMMUNITY DID NOT GIVE UP!!!! WE FOUND HER!!!!!! ALIVE AND WELL(ish, I mean come on, I’d be painting coconuts and screaming WILSON!!!!!),” Berquist, one of her rescuers, wrote on Facebook. “We found Amanda because we did it right. We covered the ground so well that we had little to no doubt that she wasn’t within our reasonable radius… That is the only reason I could confidently ask for a heli to look further out and try to send our people deeper.”
Sarah Haynes, who organized the search and ran the Find Amanda Facebook page, told WITV that Eller had been surviving on water and plants.
Eller, a yoga instructor and physical therapist living in Haiku, Maui, disappeared on May 8 after she failed to return home from a trail in the Makawao Forest Reserve.
Her boyfriend, Ben Konkol, reported her missing the next day, and said he was the last person to see her.
“She really likes to be alone in nature, too… so it’s not unlike her to do that,” he said at a press conference. “The moment that she did not arrive home at night I knew something was wrong. It did not feel good in my body.”
Konkol later told ABC News he was never considered a suspect in her disappearance, and that he voluntarily took – and passed – a lie detector test.
Eller’s white Toyota RAV4 was found in the parking lot of the reserve on the day she was reported missing, with her phone and wallet inside.
She was later found to have sent a Mother’s Day package to her mom, Julia, on the day she vanished.
“We still have history to make together, and I need you as part of my life,” Julia told KITV 4. “I never in a million years thought this would happen to me.”
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