A woman was retrieved from a Hawaii forest after being lost for more than two weeks. She said that she had to choose between life and death in order to stay alive, as reported by ABC News.
“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,” said Amanda Eller, 35, from her hospital bed, hours after rescuers plucked her from a ravine using a helicopter. “I chose life.”
After being lost for 16 days, Eller was found in decent condition on May 24 at about 5 p.m. local time.
Eller appreciated the Maui community, the volunteers who helped search for her, and the people who donated to help pay for the search.
“People that know me, that don’t know me, just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive just warms my heart,” she said in a video posted on the Facebook page “Find Amanda,” which was created after she went missing.
Eller’s mother, Julia Eller, told Fox affiliate KHON-TV that her daughter is recovering “remarkably” with just a fractured leg and needed treatment for her ankles.
“She had been working on herself — she’s a physical therapist by training, so apparently those healing touches had done her well. And they said for what she had been through, she was in surprisingly good shape,” Julia Eller said. “I’m just so incredibly grateful to have my girl home. I never gave up hope for a minute. And even though at times, you know, I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her because I knew we would find her.”
Amanda Eller vanished after going on a hike on May 8. She is a yoga instructor and a physical therapist. The last person to see Eller that morning was her boyfriend. When she did not return he reported to the police that she was missing the next day.
Soon after she was reported missing, Eller’s SUV was found at the beginning of the Kahakapao Trail.
ABC News was told by Sarah Haynes, who operated the Facebook page, that Eller was found by a search helicopter on the afternoon of May 24. She was in a ravine close by Twin Falls. Haynes said that Eller was able to flag down the helicopter.
A member of the rescue team said they discovered her in a stream bed.
“She was waving up at us while we were in the helicopter, and we got her out nice and safe,” Chris Berquist, who was in the helicopter, told ABC News Radio late Friday.
Considering what she faced, Eller was in good condition. She spoke to her father when she was on the helicopter. After she reached the helipad an ambulance took her to Maui Memorial Hospital.
“She was very alert, she knew her father’s phone number, she knew who she was, where she was, knew exactly how long she had been out there — very surprised to see us,” Berquist said. “I’ve never felt something quite that overpowering.”
Haynes said that Eller had been living off water and plants.
“She was several miles above Twin Falls, over in deep H’aiku, way off the beaten track,” Berquist said.
Just a few hours before Eller was found, the reward for her return was upped to $50,000.
On May 16, Eller’s boyfriend, Benjamin Konkol, told ABC News that he believed she was still in the forest and that he did not suspect foul play.
“She’s my soulmate, she’s the love of my life and I feel that she’s still out there. … I’d really like to stop spending my evenings alone and have my love back,” he said at the time.
Haynes filmed a short video for Facebook, in which Eller thanks to her rescuers. She also talked about looking at the big picture of her ordeal.
“This is just a tiny little blip of my story and my life and it serves a much, much bigger purpose,” Eller said. “Seeing the power of prayer and the power of love when everybody combined their efforts is incredible. It can move mountains.”
“This was all about us coming together for a greater purpose of community and love, and appreciation for life,” Eller said.
To read more about this story, click here.
To view the video of Eller’s message to her rescuers, click here.