Seventeen days after disappearing while hiking, Amanda Eller is speaking out about her harrowing experience, revealing that she chose life over death.
“The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days [of my] life, and it’s been a really significant spiritual journey that I was guided on,” the 35-year-old yoga instructor, who spoke from her room at the Maui Memorial Medical Center with boyfriend Benjamin Konkol at her side, said in a video shared on the AmandaEllersMissing Facebook page.
“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,” she said. “And I chose life.”
Eller added, “Seeing the way that the community of Maui came together … Just under the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive, just warms my heart. And just seeing the power of prayer and the power of love when everybody combines their efforts is incredible. It could move mountains.”
On Friday, the Haiku resident was spotted deep in a forest by a group of rescuers that had been hired by her family to help track her down, according to the Facebook page launched to aid in the search.
A photo shared to the page shows the extent of Eller’s injuries, including extremely swollen and bruised feet and ankles. According to her doctors, Eller suffered an orthopedic fracture and burns on her lower extremities.
“Her date and time of hospital release is unknown,” Eller’s friend, Sarah Haynes, captioned the Facebook video. “She is so incredibly grateful for the coverage that you have given this and how you have played a huge part in getting her home.”
Dr. Zora Bulatovic of the Maui Memorial Medical Center told reporters Saturday that Eller was resourceful, especially considering that a patient would normally be dehydrated after a similar experience.
“She was able to manage to stay hydrated with the river water and eating fresh fruit from the trees,” Bulatovic said, according to NBC News.
Eller disappeared on May 8 after she failed to return home from a trail in the Makawao Forest Reserve.
A post about her discovery showed the area where Eller was found on Friday.
“She got lost and was stuck and slightly injured in the forest – way way out. Somewhere way far above Twin Falls,” the post read. “Between two waterfalls down a deep ravine in a creek bed. Chris [Berquist] and Javier [Cantellops] spotted her and she spotted them, waving them down. She is being air evacuated now. She just talked to her father on the phone. Amanda Eller is ALIVE!!”
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