HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of volunteers dedicated their time and made sacrifices to look for Amanda Eller, the Maui hiker who was found alive after 17 days in the forest.
Search team leader Christopher Berquist said the search was grueling ― but all worth it.
“When the father of a missing girl comes and asks you to stay and help, I don’t know how you could say no to that,” Berquist said.
“I asked my employer if I could have the time off and he didn’t seem to think that was so much of a priority so that was an easy decision. I decided to stay here and help and it was the best thing that I could have ever done. "
The search was in its 16th day ― it started the day after she went out hiking and didn’t return ― when the situation turned to Eller’s favor.
Volunteers had searched on the ground and by air to find the 35-year-old yoga instructor. Helicopter rescue crews found her just in time.
“Everybody was all saying we found her, we found her, we found her. And it was just awesome cause we had already been in our flight for an hour and 40 minutes and we only had 10 more minutes left and we were running out of fuel,” rescuer Troy Helmer said.
On Saturday, volunteers gathered for a mahalo breakfast before dismantling their base camp, which was set up at the parking lot of the Makawao Forest Reserve.
Eller’s family is planning another celebration. That event is scheduled for Memorial Day at the Surf Club in Paia.