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Amanda Eller (Facebook)
Amanda Eller (Facebook)

Staying alive

Hiker describes how she ate moths and plants to survive 17 days lost in a Hawaii forest

By WITW Staff on May 27, 2019

Amanda Eller, the hiker lost for 17 days in a vast forest reserve in Hawaii, said she survived by eating unidentified plants, wild strawberry guavas, and moths that landed on her body, before she was saved by rescue workers who spotted her in a remote creek bed from a helicopter above.

“It did come down to life and death, and I had to choose. And I chose life. I wasn’t gonna take the easy way out, even though that meant more suffering and pain for myself,” she said in a video statement from her hospital bed, posted on Facebook.

The 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor lost her way on a short hike in the Makawao Forest Reserve in Maui on May 8, and moved deeper into the forest as she tried to find her way out.

She was found malnourished, sunburned, scraped, and dehydrated in the 2,000-acre forest, according to The New York Times, and had to be airlifted to a hospital, where she was treated for a broken leg and torn meniscus in her knee.

She said she had left her cellphone and wallet in her car because she had planned to go on just a brief walk. Many had feared that she had been abducted. Her family had offered a $50,000 reward for information.

While fighting to stay alive in the forest, she had fallen from a 20-foot cliff, and lost her shoes in a flash flood. She slept in the mud, or in the den of a wild boar. In the end, she was crawling instead of walking.

Surviving each day, she said, became a brutal test of her willpower. “The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days of my life. It’s been a really significant spiritual journey.”

Watch video of Eller speaking from her hospital bed below.

From the hospital, Amanda’s Message of Appreciation and Love to all of you. Press you may use this video (sarah haynes writing this i filmed and giving you rites now). This will be the only statement given by Amanda for a few days while she recovers. Her date and time of hospital release is unknown. 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.

Posted by Findamanda on Saturday, May 25, 2019

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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