Yoga Teacher Slept in Boar Dens to Stay Alive While Lost in Hawaiian Wilderness
Amanda Eller called her story of survival and rescue the "true aloha."
The yoga teacher who found herself lost in the Hawaiian wilderness for two weeks had to sleep in board dens to stay alive.
Amanda Eller spoke to reporters Tuesday in a press conference, detailing the 16 harrowing days she spent alone fighting for her life after taking a wrong turn on a hike.
The 35-year-old said she slept in wild boar dens when she needed a place to get some shut eye and stay warm.
"This is the Chinese New Year. This is the year of the boar. I'm a boar. So I'm like finding myself sleeping in boar's home. And they were like trailblazing for me," Eller said.
She also thanked those who never gave up on finder her and kept her story alive. She called her story of survival and rescue the "true aloha."
"That sense of pulling together, that sense of community, that sense of, like, ohana and family that we talk so much about here," she said.
The night before the press conference, Eller had an emotional reunion with her rescuers, calling them "heroes."
She was grateful and in tears Monday night as she met those who continued to look for her as the days dragged on. She tightly hugged the men who discovered her injured and dehydrated in a deep ravine Friday.
"You guys are the heroes. I am not the hero, I am just the girl sitting here healing my ankles," Eller said in a video of the community gathering published by "Today."
Eller, who was in a wheelchair, added that she's "so blessed" and thanked the entire community for showing up "with so much freakin' heart and so much passion."
Javier Cantellops, a lead searcher who heard her calling them from the ravine, said it was "incredible" to see her at the gathering.
The 35-year-old Eller went out for a hike in Makawao Forest Reserve in Maui on May 8. She is an avid outdoors person who likes to unplug, so family and friends didn't think twice about her excursion. But when she didn't return home later that day, they knew something went horribly wrong.
Eller had gotten lost along her way. For 16 days, what she described as the "toughest days" of her life, she embarked on a "really significant journey," one that forced her to choose life over death.
She sustained herself with berries and guavas, said Sarah Haynes, who organized the search for Eller and ran the Find Amanda Facebook page. Haynes told People that Eller first got her drinking water from a nearby waterfall. But she stopped drinking from the fall after it rained because she didn't want to get sick from run-off.
Eller was eventually found on May 24 in a deep ravine, injured and dehydrated. Photos taken at the time of her rescue showed her looking extremely thin with swollen and bruised ankles and feet. But she was smiling, clearly happy to have gotten a second lease on life.
Searcher Chris Berquist said Eller was "very alert" when he and Cantellops found her and she "knew exactly how long she had been out there." He described the incredible rescue as "overpowering."
In a video message from her hospital bed, Eller echoed that sentiment.
"Just the idea of helping one person make it out of the woods alive, it just warms my heart," Eller said of all those who never stopped looking for her.
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