Amanda Eller. Credit: Photo via CBS News.

Hiker who went missing for two weeks found alive

A woman who went missing two weeks ago in Maui has been found alive. Amanda Eller, 35, was last seen on May 8, and was believed to be lost during a hike. “It came down to life and death and I had to choose – I chose life,” Eller said from her hospital bed.

“Miracles do happen,” her mother, Julia Eller, said in a press conference Saturday.

Eller was able to wave down a helicopter from a creek bed between two waterfalls, said Sarah Haynes, a volunteer who helped organize the search. “She is just as strong as we always said she would be,” Haynes wrote on Facebook. “We knew she could make it this long.”

Julia Eller said her daughter had gone on what was supposed to be a three-mile hike, but she eventually became disorientated and could not find her way back to her car. “It’s very easy to get misguided” on the trail, she said.

A Facebook page dedicated to the search said she was only “slightly injured” and said the privately-owned helicopter had been funded by public donations.

Doctors at Maui Memorial Medical Center said Eller suffered from severe sun exposure. But she had managed to stay hydrated and ate fresh fruits from the trees. She was found without shoes and has been seen by an orthopedic surgeon.

“I felt in my heart that my daughter was alive and I could not give up hope — but I am human and I had those moments of despair, it was hard going out there every day,” said Julia Eller.

The area where Eller was found is believed to have been roughly four miles from where her car and cell phone were discovered on May 9, in the parking lot of the Kahakapao Loop Trail of the Makawao Forest Reserve, KGMB reported.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said he’s grateful for the community’s efforts in the search.

“This search and rescue was truly a community collaboration of Maui County first responders, family, friends and community volunteers,” Victorino said in a statement. “I extend my deepest appreciation for everyone involved in searching for and locating Amanda. Your work, determination and sacrifice has helped return her to her loving family. God bless them all.”

Author: CAROLINE LINTON/ CBS News
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