One of the most terrifying things that can happen to a loved one is having them vanish off the face of the Earth. One day they are there in your life, the next they are inexplicably gone. Sometimes this is because the person has run away to start a new life, other times it's because an unimaginable tragedy has befallen them.
What's even scarier is being the person who goes missing. Imagine being lost in nature with no modern comfort to turn to. It's just you and the unforgiving elements. While we would like to think that we would survive, it's more than likely we would succumb to nature, never to be seen again.
It would be easy to become hopeless, assuming that you'll never make it out alive. That's what Amanda Eller thought her fate would be when she was lost in the Hawaiian jungle. Luckily there were people who never gave up on her, including the men who rescued her. Recently they had a touching reunion.
Amanda Eller was lost in the Hawaiian jungle for 17 days before being rescued. It's a miracle that she was found before it was too late. Recently she had a reunion with her rescuer where she was able to publicly thank them for saving her life. At the community gathering where the reunion took place, Eller said, "You guys are the heroes. I am not the hero, I am just the girl sitting here healing my ankles." Amanda Eller, 35, was spotted by helicopters on May 24th when she was rescued. "I am so blessed for every breath that I take," she told those at the community gathering.
It's not just the rescuers that found her that Amanda Eller is thankful for. The entire community spent weeks trying to find her. Her thanks extends to all of them as well.
On the Monday community gathering, she expressed her gratitude, "I've never experienced anything like this where the community is showing up with so much freakin' heart and so much passion, and these guys were not going to give up on me, thank God!" It was a joyous event, and the rescuer who found her, Javier Cantellops had this to say: "It was incredible to see her (on Monday night),. She was just so incredibly gracious to every single person who came to her."
Along with the rescuers, Amanda Eller's friend, Sarah Haynes helped coordinate the search and rescue. She gave an update on Eller's condition the day following the community gathering: "She's doing great. She's got a little bit of a one step backward, two steps forward situation, but she's spiritually great. She's going through a very grueling process on her legs, where they need to remove the tops of the wounds and it's very painful, much like a burn victim.
Amanda Eller had several injuries from her time in the jungle. Her leg was fractured, and she suffered sunburn and infection. The event was harrowing. Her shoes and socks were swept away by a flash flood, and she wasn't sure if she'd live through it. Ultimately, she didn't want to give up. In a social media video, she said, "It did come down to life and death and I had to choose ... and I chose life. I wasn't going to take the easy way out."
Miraculously, the helicopter rescue team only had five minutes of fuel left when they spotted her. Cantellops told TODAY, "That moment will live down in the depths of my soul forever. We're coming up this waterfall and look down and she appears out of the wood. It can only be described as magic. It was the greatest single moment of my life."