The search for hiker Amanda Eller came to an end on Friday after a helicopter crew found her alive near a waterfall deep in the Hawaiian forest that she began hiking 17 days ago.
Concern over Eller’s whereabouts began on May 9 when she did not return from what she intended to be a brief hike through the Makawao Forest Reserve in northern Maui. Those concerns grew exponentially when Eller’s car was found with her water bottle, wallet and phone still inside. The location of those belongings led some to believe that this was much worse than a case of a lost hiker. In reality they were only left behind because Eller thought she’d be done with her hike fast enough that those things wouldn’t be necessary.
Partway through her hike, Eller, who had experience walking this trail before, went off the path to take a brief rest. She then got lost while trying to find her way back to her car, but eventually set her sights on finding water instead once that search reached its third day—around the time cops and firefighters began looking for her. It was then that her situation grew dire as she fractured her leg and tore her meniscus after falling off a steep cliff. A flash flood then swept away her shoes.
Eller proceeded to survive off of various insects, plants and fruits she recognized. She used various flora for warmth and eventually had to settle on crawling instead of walking where she needed to go. Meanwhile, rescuers searched everywhere, including the intestines of wild boars, for any sign of her. A boar even attacked a volunteer searching for Eller, according to the New York Times.
The hiker was finally found on the 17th day as she was foraging for food a whole four miles away from where her car was parked. Eller was reportedly found dirty, sunburned and smiling. Her father told reporters that she was airlifted to a hospital and that the location where Eller was found was so treacherous, that even her rescuers needed an airlift.
In a video posted to Facebook from her hospital bed, she expressed her appreciation to everyone who showed support during her search in the form of prayers and action.