Hiker found alive after 2 weeks in Maui forest



A 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor who went missing in the Makawao Forest Reserve on Maui, Hawaii, two weeks ago has been found alive, according to her family and a Facebook page devoted to the search.

Amanda Eller was found Friday in a creek bed between two waterfalls by three volunteers searching the area by helicopter.

“We did it, man! We found her,” said Javier Cantellops, one of a group of friends and family who spent the last searching for her, according to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Cantellops, whose website says he was former Special Operations Airborne Ranger, and fellow searchers Chris Berquist and Troy Helmers spotted her while flying over an area farther east in the reserve than other teams had been looking.


“We found 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,” Berquist, who was in the helicopter, told ABC News Radio late Friday. “She was not injured. She has a little bit of exposure from the sun, a little bit of sunburn. She lost her shoes a few days in. But no injuries.”

Her father, John, said she suffered abrasions and sun exposure but was otherwise “very awake, very aware — mentally 100%,” according to the Star-Advertiser.

Sarah Haynes, a friend who ran the “Find Amanda” Facebook page, told ABC News that Amanda had been living on water and plants.

The Maui Police Department said Eller had gotten lost in the reserve on May 8 after going to a local post office, KHON2 reported.  Eller’s SUV was found at the base of the Kahakapao Trail.

Earlier Friday, just hours before her rescue, a reward for finding Eller was increased to $50,000.


“I felt in my heart she was alive,” said Eller’s mother, Julia, according to KHON2. “I never gave up hope for a minute. Even though at times I would have those moments of despair, I stayed strong for her ’cause I knew we would find her if we just stayed with the program, stayed persistent and that we would eventually find her.” 


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