(MAUI, HI) — She spent 16 days lost in a dense forest in Hawaii but after less than two days in a hospital, Yoga instructor Amanda Eller was discharged to go home and start her second chance at life.
Eller, 35, left the Maui Memorial Medical Center on Sunday, after being treated for fracture and minor injuries to her ankles and feet.
“We are thrilled to report the great news that Amanda Eller was able to leave the hospital on her own accord to continue her rehab and recovery with family and loved ones,” Michael Rembis, chief executive officer of Maui Health System, said in a statement. “The staff and physicians at Maui Memorial Medical Center involved in her treatment and care are rejoicing at the miraculous news of her great outcome.”
Eller, a yoga teacher and physical therapist from Maui, disappeared after going for a hike on May 8 on the Kahakapao Trail in East Maui’s Makawao Forest Reserve. Her white Toyota RAV4 was found in the forest parking lot with her phone and wallet inside, but she was nowhere in sight.
Police suspended the search for her on May 14, but friends, loved ones and volunteers never gave up and kept looking for her.
On Friday afternoon, their efforts paid off when a helicopter crew searching for Eller spotted her waving up at them about 3:45 p.m. near the Kailua reservoir. She was in a creek bed with waterfalls on both sides, rescuers said.
The rescue crew plucked her from the ravine and whisked to safety.
“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,” Eller said from her hospital bed on Saturday. “I chose life.”
Eller said she survived by eating wild berries and guava she foraged in the jungle and drank water when she was sure it was clear enough. She said she lost her shoes several days into her misadventure when they got washed away in a flash flood while she was attempting to dry them out.
She was severely sunburned and her ankles and feet were chewed up from the rough terrain, but overall she was alert and in good physical condition when she was found.
In a video post on the Facebook page “Find Amanda,” which was created soon after she went missing, Eller thanked all the volunteers who refused give up searching for her despite the long odds of finding her alive.
“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 the video. “And just seeing the power of prayer and the power of love when everybody combines their efforts — is incredible. It could move mountains.”
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