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Hawaii woman fell to ground bawling when found in forest

2 years 6 months 4 days ago Tuesday, May 28 2019 May 28, 2019 May 28, 2019 5:21 PM May 28, 2019 in News - AP National

By AUDREY McAVOY
Associated Press

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."

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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