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Lost Hiker Apologizes to Rescuers

Amanda Eller was found in Maui forest after 17 days
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 2, 2019 8:28 AM CDT
A security guard helps Amanda Eller, accompanied by her mother, Julia Eller, right, at Maui Memorial Hospital on May 28.   (Craig T. Kojima/Honolulu Star-Advertiser via AP)
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(Newser) – Amanda Eller has apologized for putting rescuers' lives at risk when she became lost in a Hawaiian forest and is dialing back her comments about the ordeal being a spiritual experience. Eller, a yoga instructor and physical therapist, spent 17 days in the forest after becoming disoriented on what was supposed to be a three-mile hike, NBC reports. She posted a seven-minute video Friday night on Facebook to address what she called misunderstandings about her comments after being rescued. "It was never my intention through any of this to put anybody in harm's way, to create a rescue effort out of my being lost in the woods," Eller said. "I want to apologize for putting anyone in harm's way." She had left her cellphone and water in her car when she began her hike, which she said in the video was irresponsible.

Eller had likened her experience to a "spiritual journey," which had drawn criticism, per CNN. That comment ignored the reality of eating moths and berries and drinking water from streams, she said in the video. "This was never intentional, and I didn't set out that day on a spiritual journey." She lives in Maui but had gone to the Makawao Forest Reserve rarely. She had no compass and tried taking several paths to get back to her car; she then focused on trying to stay alive and getting the attention of rescue helicopters. Eller, whose feet and ankles are bandaged in the video, was treated in a hospital for two days for severe sunburn, a twisted knee, and ankle problems. She said in the video that she hopes her ordeal makes hikers "very aware of the preparation that they need when they choose to explore Maui." (The search for another hiker in Maui ended in heartbreak.)

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