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Missing Hawaii hiker found alive after two-week ordeal

  • 26 May 2019
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Media captionAmanda Eller spoke to the press from her hospital bed

A woman who was found alive two weeks after going missing in Hawaii has told of her "life or death" ordeal.

Amanda Eller, 35, was last seen on 8 May. Family and friends had launched an intense search effort and offered a cash reward for her safe return.

Ms Eller was found on Friday when she waved down a rescue helicopter.

Reports say she got lost and injured while hiking on Maui. Photographs show her dirty and slightly injured, but smiling after being rescued.

Image copyright Javier Cantellops Image caption The yoga instructor was found slightly injured, in a deep ravine, by volunteers

In an emotional video posted to Facebook on Saturday, the yoga instructor described how she endured "the toughest days of my life" while injured in the Hawaiian wilds.

Filmed from a hospital bed next to her boyfriend, Benjamin Konkol, she said she "chose life" despite "times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up".

"I wasn't going to take the easy way out, even if that meant more suffering and pain for myself," she said in the video.

In another video, taken at a local hospital, Ms Eller's father said he was "bawling like a baby" when his daughter was found.

Her mother described her as being in "surprisingly good shape" considering how long she had been missing.

Local reports suggest she has lost weight, but survived after foraging on berries and local water sources.

Image copyright @Findamanda Facebook Image caption Family and friends raised money for the search, and offered cash rewards

She suffered a broken leg, a torn meniscus in her knee, sunburns and scrapes, The New York Times reported.

An online announcement about her rescue on the "Find Amanda" Facebook page has now been shared and liked thousands of times.

Well-wishers have been flooding the page with messages of shock and relief about Ms Eller's safety.

Her mother, Julia, told local news website Khon 2 that she had always "felt in her heart" that her daughter was alive.

"I never gave up hope for a minute," she said. "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".

Image copyright Javier Cantellops Image caption A search helicopter, paid for by GoFundMe donations, found her in this area
Image copyright Javier Cantellops Image caption It is understood she was found with no socks or shoes on, and may have a fractured leg

Ms Eller's car and mobile phone had been found in the Makawao Forest Reserve car park - leading family and friends to suspect she had got lost while hiking.

Her boyfriend had been the last person to see her, and said he "strongly" felt she was in the forest.

She reportedly got lost after leaving the trail to rest before plunging 20ft (six metres) from a cliff, breaking her leg.

Fifteen days after she was reported missing, three search team members reportedly spotted her on Friday in a deep ravine.

"We were freaking out. We were trying not to trip over ourselves trying to get to her too fast," rescuer Chris Berquest told local media.

Another member of the aerial search party, Javier Cantellops, shared images and video of the incredible rescue on social media.

In one post on his Facebook page he described finding her as the "greatest day of my life".

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