Yoga Teacher Says She Chose Life, Found After 17 Days Lost in Hawaii Forest

May 26, 2019 Updated: May 26, 2019

Rescuers in Hawaii have found a yoga instructor who went missing for 17 days while hiking in a forest reserve and survived by drinking from streams and eating plants.

Amanda Eller, 35, went hiking in Maui’s Makawao Forest Reserve on May 8 but became lost when she walked deeper in the reserve, which covers more than 2,000 acres, instead of heading back to her car as she believed.

Rescuers in a helicopter hired by her family spotted Eller on Friday afternoon in a ravine by a waterfall, miles from her vehicle.

Amanda Eller
The moment when yoga instructor Amanda Eller was found on May 25, 2019, after she went missing for 17 days from hiking in Maui’s Makawao Forest Reserve. (Javier Cantellops/Facebook)

“Sure enough, God willing, she was right there,” Javier Canetellops, a search coordinator who was in the helicopter, told reporters. “Unbelievable.”

Eller, who also works as a physical therapist, was malnourished, shoe-less, and had a broken leg and torn meniscus in her knee, as well as sunburn and scrapes. She was airlifted to a hospital and expected to make a full recovery.

Friends had launched a “Find Amanda” campaign on Facebook, and just an hour before she was rescued they offered a $50,000 reward for information. Volunteers spent days scouring the thick forest around the trailhead where she parked.

yoga instructor
Amanda Eller, a yoga instructor who went missing for 17 days while hiking in Maui’s Makawao Forest Reserve, poses for a photo from her hospital bed with her peers at Maui Memorial Medical Center in Hawaii, U.S., after she was rescued during a search operation, on May 25, 2019. (SARAH HAYNES Ð FINDAMANDA/via REUTERS)

“Elated. Excited. Ecstatic,” Eller’s mother, Julia, told NBC News affiliate KHNL in Honolulu. “I can’t even put it into words I’m so incredibly grateful.”

By Daniel Wallis