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Amanda Eller, rescued Hawaii hiker, sorry for being ‘irresponsible’

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Missing hiker Amanda Eller has been found alive and in pretty good shape more than two weeks after disappearing in a forest reserve on Maui, Hawaii.
USA TODAY

In the jubilation over the rescue of a hiker who was lost in a Hawaiian forest for 17 days, some of the details of what led to her ordeal were glossed over.

Now, Amanda Eller is offering specifics while taking responsibility for some of her poor decisions.

In a video posted on Facebook this weekend, Eller portrayed herself less as dogged survivor – the image that has come out from numerous accounts of her grueling experience in Maui’s Makawao Forest Reserve – and more as an ill-prepared explorer.

“I want to apologize for putting anybody in harm’s way, for any kind of rescue efforts that people feel were unnecessary,’’ she said, her injured legs partially covered by bandages.

Eller went into the woods May 8, got lost and was finally spotted in a creek bed by a helicopter pilot on a search team May 24, leading to a sensational rescue.

One of the mystifying aspects of Eller’s prolonged disappearance was the decision to leave her cellphone in her car when she went on what was supposed to be a three-mile hike.

In the video, Eller said she initially planned to run through the woods and didn’t want any encumbrances, but opted to walk instead upon finding several downed trees shortly after starting her jog. After sitting down to meditate midway through the hike, the 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor said she got disoriented and couldn’t find her way back to the vehicle.

“I realize that I was irresponsible, that I should have had my cellphone with me, that I should have had some water with me, some kind of preparatory tools that you bring with you when you go hiking,’’ Eller said. “It was not my right to be so casual about safety.’’

Eller’s story attracted international attention and she was lauded for her grit and resourcefulness in surviving for more than two weeks in the forest, drinking water from a river and finding nourishment in fruits.

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But she also drew scrutiny and some criticism for her cavalier incursion into the woods, and for comparing the hardship she endured to a spiritual journey, which seemed to romanticize it. The dangerous situation Eller put herself in was underscored five days after her rescue when another hiker, Noah “Kekai’’ Mina, was found dead in another forest in Maui.

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Eller once again thanked her rescuers and supporters while explaining her previous remarks.

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“That day, I never intended to go on any kind of spiritual journey, spiritual experience,’’ she said. “It was simply just a hike through the woods.’’

Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/06/02/amanda-eller-rescued-hawaii-hiker-sorry-irresponsible/1321006001/

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