Amanda Eller, a Maryland woman reported missing in Hawaii, was found alive Friday more than two weeks since disappearing while hiking on the island of Maui.
Rescue workers found Ms. Eller, a 35-year-old yoga instructor and physical therapist, while searching by helicopter above the Makawao Forest Reserve.
“I looked up and they were right on top of me,” Ms. Eller told The New York Times. “I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ and I just broke down and started bawling.”
She was subsequently airlifted to a local hospital to be treated for a broken leg, a torn meniscus in her knee and other injuries, the newspaper reported.
The successful rescue mission capped off a 17-day search in which friends and family of the Mechanicsville native had offered a $50,000 reward for information about what they feared was a possible abduction.
Ms. Eller had been last seen May 8 at a local post office, and her car was found the following day parked near a forest trailhead with both her phone and wallet inside.
Speaking to The Times, Ms. Eller said she got lost while hiking within the more than 2,000-acre park.
“I wanted to go back the way I’d come, but my gut was leading me another way — and I have a very strong gut instinct,” she said. “So, I said, my car is this way and I’m just going to keep going until I reach it.”
Three days later she fell 20 feet off a cliff, and the following day she lost both her shoes in a flash flood, the report said.
Ms. Eller was ultimately located only around four miles from where her car was found, authorities said Friday. A Facebook group that announced her discovery said that she had been found by rescue workers “deep in a creek bed between two waterfalls.”
“I wanted to give up,” Ms. Eller told The Times. “But the only option I had was life or death.”
“I am forever indebted and overwhelmed by the amount of people that came out to help me,” Ms. Eller said. “It was pretty miraculous.”