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Dad's Tech Savvy Played Role in Hiker's Amazing Rescue

Amanda Eller's father plans to develop software modeled on their successful operation
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2019 10:12 AM CDT
This May 24 photo provided by Troy Helmer shows Amanda Eller, second from left, after being found by searchers Javier Cantellops, far left, and Chris Berquist, right, above the Kailua reservoir in East...   (Troy Jeffrey Helmer/Find Amanda via AP)
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(Newser) – Amanda Eller is out of the hospital in Maui after her incredible rescue from a dense forest after 16 days, reports Maui Now. The 35-year-old physical therapist and yoga instructor has recounted how she survived on berries and water and never gave up hope after getting lost, then falling off a cliff. The official government search ended after three days, but volunteers refused to quit. And as the Washington Post reports, it was more than luck that led to the rescue. The tech savvy of John Eller, Amanda's father, played a role, one that might lead to better technology in future rescues. The elder Eller runs a telematics company, and he worked out a way to make the daily searches more efficient through "a search interface that allowed volunteers to log via their smartphones where they already looked," write Breena Kerr and Alex Horton.

When searchers would return to base camp, they would turn in their GPS data, and that information would be used to create the next day's search map. A key step was meshing that information "with a data analysis of where missing persons are often located," per the Post. “We found out that more than 80% of people recovered are in drainages or creeks—and that's where we found her,” says rescuer Chris Berquist. John Eller says he plans to develop software that future rescuers can use. Adds Berquist: "We're going to make sure this is a well-oiled machine and doesn’t take 15, 16 plus days to find someone next time." Amanda Eller posted an emotional thank-you to her well-wishers from the hospital here. (The first news of her rescue came in an ecstatic "urgent update.")

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