In this Friday, May 24, 2019, photo provided by Troy Jeffrey Helmer, resident Amanda Eller, second from left, poses for a photo after being found by searchers, Javier Cantellops, far left, Helmer and Chris Berquist above the Kailua reservoir in East Maui, Hawaii, on Friday afternoon. The men spotted Eller from a helicopter and went down to retrieve her. She was taken to the hospital and was in good spirits, her family said. Eller had been missing since May 8. (Troy Jeffrey Helmer via AP)

Hawaii woman fell to ground bawling when found in forest

May 28, 2019 - 7:12 pm

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii woman said Tuesday she fell to the ground and started bawling when a rescue helicopter spotted her in a forest where she had survived for two weeks by eating plants and drinking stream water.

Amanda Eller told a news conference on Maui that crews in other helicopters had failed to see her earlier in her ordeal. She was rescued on Friday.

"I knew in the grand scheme of things, I'm on this tiny piece of rock on the top of a waterfall, and how the heck are they going to find me?" Eller said. "It was a miracle."

Eller had set out May 8 for a 3-mile (5-kilometer) hike in Makawao Forest Reserve. She didn't take a cellphone and didn't have a compass.

The physical therapist said her heart was telling her which way to turn. But when she tried to go back the way she came, that path didn't lead to her car.

Eller said she she's normally an "overpreparer" and has food, water, sunscreen and a hat with her.

"Just that day I did not," she said, conceding she should have taken a cellphone.

Her darkest moment came on her 14th day in the forest when helicopters passed over and failed to see her yet again.

"You lose hope," Eller said. "Your hope meter starts to decline a little bit. And as the sun starts to go down you think, 'OK. Another night alone, how am I going to stay warm, how am I going to stay alive?'"

Still, she said she never felt alone or fearful. She thought of her family and chose to live.

She told herself: "You can sit on that rock and you can die. You can say mercy and feel pitiful for yourself and you can play victim. Or you can start walking down that waterfall and choose life."

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