A Hawaii hiker who was missing for 16 days after entering a park in Maui has been found alive.
Amanda Eller, a 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor, was spotted by rescuers on Friday. They were flying over the island’s Makawao Forest Reserve when they located her “deep in a creek bed between two waterfalls,” according to a Facebook page set up to inform the public about the search efforts. Eller and the rescuers saw each other at the same time, and she flagged them down for help.
“She is just as strong as we always said she would be,” a post on the page reads. “We knew she could make it this long.”
Photos of Eller appear to show her still in the same white tank top and gray athletic leggings she was last seen wearing on May 8 before she arrived at the forest.
Eller apparently became lost in the area after suffering a slight injury. An additional image posted to Facebook shows gaping wounds on her ankles, though the cause is not stated.
The ravine where she was discovered contains a fair amount of rocky terrain and is surrounded by densely wooded areas.
Eller was reported missing on May 9, a day after she was last seen. Police found her white Toyota RAV4 in the parking lot of the park with her wallet and cellphone inside and her car key under the front tire on the driver’s side.
Her family speculated that she might have gone for a run, noting it was common for her to unplug and leave her belongings behind. However, questions emerged as to whether she might have been kidnapped or died.
Search efforts organized by the family and community continued for days, involving long hikes, dogs, divers and a drone.
Hours before Eller was found, her family publicized an offer of $50,000 for anyone with information on what they thought could have been an abduction.
In a Facebook post Satuday, Chris Berquist, one of the rescuers in the helicopter that located Eller, praised those who worked tirelessly to find her.
“I can’t even BEGIN to express how moving this whole effort has been,” he wrote. “The depth of the dedication to this group and everyone that helped support it. WE DID IT!!!!! With drive and love and perseverance, this community brought her home!”
REAL LIFE. REAL NEWS. REAL VOICES.
Help us tell more of the stories that matter from voices that too often remain unheard.