DESPITE search and rescue efforts continuing, everyone involved secretly feared the worse for a young female hiker who had been missing for two and a half weeks in dense Hawaiian forests. However, this story had a happy and somewhat miraculous ending after Amanda Eller was found alive at the end of last week, battered and hungry but nothing that she will not make a full recovery from.
Amanda set off on her solo stroll on 8 May but quickly lost her way in the Makawao Forest Reserve on the island of Maui. Her intended three-mile hike soon turned into a lesson in survivalism that would have made Bear Grylls proud. Rather than head back towards her car – which was discovered the day after prompting the start of the rescue efforts – she ended up going deeper into the forest. Probably the low point was when she fell off a cliff, fracturing a leg. She also suffered severe sunburn and cuts and bruises too numerous to mention. However, her day job as a physical therapist and yoga teacher doubtless helped as she was in good physical condition before starting out. She also survived by staying close to a water source and eating wild fruit and insects, although she was beginning to weaken severely. Then last Friday, 17 days after setting off, Amanda spotted a rescue helicopter, which fortunately also spotted her, bringing her ordeal to a happy ending.
Survival experts say that, while there is always an element of luck, Amanda did the right things, effectively buying time until rescuers found her. However, as it has been pointed out, simply carrying a mobile phone would have reduced her unwanted adventure by about sixteen and a half days.