A yoga instructor survived for 17 days lost in Hawaii forest by eating moths and sleeping in boar’s den.
Amanda Eller, 35, went missing while hiking in the Makawao Forest Reserve in Maui on May 8.
She was found with blistering sunburn on her feet but smiled for a selfie with her ecstatic rescuers before she was winched to safety.
Speaking from her hospital bed, Amanda said: “I wanted to give up. But the only option I had was life or death.”
She added: “I chose life. I wasn’t going to take the easy way out, even though that meant more pain and suffering for myself.”
Amanda survived her long arduous ordeal despite breaking her leg on day three, after falling 20ft, and having her shoes washed away by a flash flood.
Childhood friend Katie York said: “The cold was what she said was the worst. She slept in a boar den and covered herself with ferns and anything she could get her hands on.
“The main thing she wanted was for the rains to hold off so that she wouldn’t be cold and drinking muddy water.”
In an emotional Facebook video posted on Saturday, Amanda said she was almost overcome by her fear – but found inner strength to carry on.
Amanda is helped into the cage by her rescuers
Amanda said: “The last 17 days of my life have been the toughest days of my life.
“It’s been a really significant spiritual journey that I was guided on and there were times of total fear and loss and wanting to give up, and it did come down to life and death, and I had to choose.
Speaking from her hospital bed, Eller added: “I wanted to give up.
“But the only option I had was life or death.
“I wanted to go back the way I’d come, but my gut was leading me another way – and I have a very strong gut instinct.
“So, I said, my car is this way and I’m just going to keep going until I reach it.
“I heard this voice that said, ‘If you want to live, keep going’.
“And as soon as I would doubt my intuition and try to go another way than where it was telling me, something would stop me, a branch would fall on me, I’d stub my toe, or I’d trip.
“So I was like, ‘O.K., there is only one way to go’.
“The whole time I was going deeper into the jungle, even though I thought I was going back where I came from.
“I was getting so skinny that I was really starting to doubt if I could survive.”
A rescuer sits with Amanda while the cage is winched to the helicopter
Amanda also thanked the Maui community for coming together to find her – adding that her rescue proved that the combined efforts of determined people can “move mountains”.
Describing the incredible moment Amanda was found, Chris Berquist told ABC News: “We found her in a stream bed, she was waving up at us while we were in the helicopter, and we got her out nice and safe.
“She was not injured. She has a little bit of exposure from the sun, a little bit of sunburn. She lost her shoes a few days in. But no injuries.”
Chris added that she was in “deep deep H’aiku” and found “several miles above Twin Falls”.
Berquist said: “She was very alert, she knew her father’s phone number, she knew who she was, where she was, knew exactly how long she had been out there – very surprised to see us.”
Last week her boyfriend, Benjamin Konkol, said he wasn’t giving up hope because he knew he would find her.
He said: “There’s very strong evidence pointing to yeah she’s definitely still here, we just haven’t found her yet.”
During the search, her mum Julia said: “This is a mother’s worst nightmare and it has been an emotional rollercoaster.”
CCTV footage released by authorities showed her shopping in a local Post Office on the morning she went missing.
After she was found, Eller was rushed to Maui Memorial Hospital by ambulance.
Eller, originally from Maryland, works as a yoga instructor and lives in Haiku.
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