Maui woman missing for over 2 weeks found alive, recovering at the hospital
Friends found her above an area know as Twin Falls this afternoon.
MAKAWAO, Hawaii -
Thirty-five-year-old Amanda Eller was found Friday at around 3:45 p.m. after she went missing 16 days ago. She's recovering at the Maui Memorial Medical Center.
Rescuers found her above an area know as Twin Falls on Friday afternoon. Her family says she was dehydrated and sunburnt when they found her, but she's physically okay overall and able to talk. They're just thrilled the search has a happy ending.
"She figured it out, she was smart, she was strong, she was prepared. We said that in the beginning and it was absolutely true," John Eller, Amanda's dad, said.
She was discovered by a crew in a private chopper that her family hired after Maui Police and Fire called off the search after three days.
"We've been flying almost two hours which is our fuel limit. We were on our way back flying over the streams and there she was, waving her arms at us from down below," one of the rescuers, Chris, said.
The Maui Fire Department responded and extricated her. "Police are in the process of interviewing her and documenting injuries as part of their investigation. The case is considered closed. The Maui Police Department expresses their gratitude to the family, community and partner agencies for all their efforts," the police department said in a statement.
Sarah Haynes, who ran the Find Amanda Facebook page and organized the search, says her friend had been living on water and plants. Eller had no shoes or socks on when she was found.
Her dad said she was able to walk for the first five to eight days after she was reported missing. "She was very far away and trying to find her way back and just got lost in the terrain," he said.
Eller was last seen on May 8 (but was reported missing May 9.) She was seen at the post office in Haiku sending a package to her mom for Mother’s Day. She was also seen at a nearby grocery store that day.
Her white SUV was found in the parking lot near Kahakapao Trail in Makawao Forest the next day with her wallet and cell phone still in the vehicle.
Days after she was reported missing, her parents and sister flew in from Maryland to look for her.
Family and friends are grateful for the community's support through it all. "We could not be more appreciative to the hundreds of volunteers who hung fliers and did ground searches every day for 16 days. This is the best news I've ever had," Haynes said.
Maui County Mayor Michael Victorino said, “We are overjoyed to learn that she has been found. We hope and pray that she and her family will fully recover from this ordeal. This search and rescue was truly a community collaboration of Maui County first responders, family, friends and community volunteers. I extend my deepest appreciation for everyone involved in searching for and locating Amanda. Your work, determination and sacrifice has helped return her to her loving family. God bless them all.”
There was suspicion her boyfriend Ben Konkol was involved with her disappearance. He did report her missing a day after she was gone, but Maui police confirm he passed a polygraph test.
Hours before Eller was found, the reward for finding her went up to $50,000, an increase from the original at $10,000.