Hawaii woman missing for two weeks rescued from forest

A Hawaii woman has been found alive in a forest on Maui island after going missing more than two weeks ago.

Amanda Eller was found injured in the Makawao Forest Reserve, the Maui News reported.

Family spokeswoman Sarah Haynes confirmed she had spoken with Ms Eller’s father, John. Ms Eller was airlifted to safety.

“I was crying tears of joy,” said Ms Eller’s mother, Julia. “I never gave up hope for a minute. I knew that we would find her.”

Julia Eller, mother of Amanda, speaking during a news conference (Bryan Berkowitz/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
Julia Eller, mother of Amanda, speaking during a news conference (Bryan Berkowitz/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)

The physical therapist from the Maui town of Haiku went missing on May 8. Her vehicle was found in the forest car park with her phone and wallet inside.

Hundreds of volunteers have searched for her since. Ms Eller’s parents had offered a reward to encourage people to find her.

Javier Cantellops said he was searching for Ms Eller from a helicopter along with Chris Berquist and Troy Helmers when they spotted her near the Kailua reservoir, according to Maui Police Department spokesman Lt Gregg Okamoto and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Mr Cantellops told the newspaper that she was in the bed of a creek with waterfalls on either side.

He told CNN he saw Ms Eller waving her hands at the helicopter.

“It was unbelievable, dude,” Mr Cantellops said. “Seeing her for the first time in a long time was just unbelievable. It was nothing short of elation.”

Ms Eller was in an area with thick vegetation, he said. “That vegetation is so thick, it’s a miracle that we saw her,” Mr Cantellops said.

Rescuers show some of the technology used during the search for Amana Eller (Bryan Berkowitz/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
Rescuers show some of the technology used during the search for Amana Eller (Bryan Berkowitz/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)

The Maui Fire Department brought Ms Eller to hospital for evaluation.

Her mother told the Maui News that Amanda survived by staying near a water source and eating wild raspberries and strawberry guavas. She even ate a couple of moths, Julia Eller said.

Her daughter tried to catch some crawfish, but she was “not very successful”, her mother said.

“She lost quite a bit of weight, as you can imagine, being lost for that amount of time,” Mrs Eller said. “But she was able to survive it. She had the right skills and did the right things to buy time so that we had a chance to find her.”

Ms Eller suffered a leg fracture, abrasions on her ankles and severe sunburn, but Mrs Eller told the Maui News that her daughter’s spirits were good.

“And all of those things are treatable,” she said.

- Press Association

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