Hiker Amanda Eller, second from left, was found Friday by rescuers after being missing for 16 days in the Maui mountains. Rescuers included Javier Cantellops, left, Troy Helmers and Chris Berquist. (Javier Cantellops/Facebook)

Hawaii woman missing for 2 weeks rescued from Maui forest

The physical therapist from the Maui town of Haiku went missing on May 8

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 Friday.

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

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

The physical therapist from the Maui town of Haiku went missing on May 8. Her white Toyota RAV4 was found in the forest parking lot with her phone and wallet inside.

Hundreds of volunteers have searched for her since. Eller’s parents had offered a $10,000 reward to encourage people to find her.

Javier Cantellops said he was searching for Eller from a helicopter along with Chris Berquist and Troy Helmers when they spotted her about 3:45 p.m. near the Kailua reservoir, according to Maui Police Department spokesman Lt. Gregg Okamoto and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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

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

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

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

The Maui Fire Department brought Eller to a hospital for evaluation, Okamoto said in a statement.

Her mother told the Maui News that Amanda Eller 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,” Julia Eller said.

“She lost quite a bit of weight, as you can imagine, being lost for that amount of time,” Julia 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.”

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

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

A photo was posted to a Facebook page tracking the search, showing a smiling Eller with what appeared to be injuries to her face and dirt on her clothing. The photo shows Eller surrounded by Cantellops, Berquist and Helmers.

Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said he’s grateful for the efforts of family, friends, volunteers and first-responders.

“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.”

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta reports just seven new COVID-19 cases

‘Today’s numbers mark an occasion to be celebrated’

PHOTOS: Sylvan Lake grads celebrate amidst pandemic

A group of local businesses band together to throw two days worth of celebrations for the graduates

Sylvan Lake RCMP continue to search for missing man

43-year-old Steven Michael Hull is still missing and Sylvan Lake RCMP are seeking public assistance

Poplar Ridge School receives county funding for new playground equipment

Two new gaga ball pits and a resurfaced basketball court will be going in at Poplar Ridge School

Visitor pay parking returns to Sylvan Lake

Visitor pay parking areas in the downtown and lakeshore areas is once again in effect

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Sylvan Lake News is firmly committed to seeing you through the changes ahead, but we need your help

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Sylvan Lake News is firmly committed to seeing you through the changes ahead, but we need your help

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Minister says reckoning on police violence against Indigenous people needed

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Nunavut to bring in civilian police review after arrest video: minister

Trudeau takes a knee at anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill

Trudeau takes a knee at anti-racism protest on Parliament Hill

Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara faces assault, break and enter, harassment charges

Liberal MP Marwan Tabbara faces assault, break and enter, harassment charges

Black Canadians say racism here is just as harmful as in the United States

Black Canadians say racism here is just as harmful as in the United States

Implementation of Divorce Act reforms delayed eight months by pandemic

Implementation of Divorce Act reforms delayed eight months by pandemic

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe ready for Genesys 300 as IndyCar takes the stage

Canada’s James Hinchcliffe ready for Genesys 300 as IndyCar takes the stage

Most Read