While the story of one missing hiker in Hawaii had a happy ending, another ended in tragedy.
Amanda Eller, 35, spent 17 days in the wilderness after getting lost on May 8 during a hike. Last week, a helicopter spotted Eller, who was injured and considerably thinner than when she ventured into the woods. She was so happy to see the rescuers as they approached her in the Makawao Forest Reserve she cried tears of happiness.
While her family was certainly relieved by her rescue, another Hawaiian family is grieving the death of their hiker relative.
The body of Noah “Kekai” Mina, also 35, was found Wednesday, nine days after he was last seen. His body was found at the bottom of Mauna Kahalawai, a 1.7 million-year-old volcano on Maui. Like with Eller, a helicopter found him but the result was much more grim.
It’s not clear how he died but an autopsy is scheduled, USA Today reports. He was found dead about 18 miles away from where Eller was found alive.
“We are so very sorry that Kekai has passed from this realm, he meant the world to us as a son, brother and friend,” his family said in a statement. “We find solace that he was found, and ask all those that extended their hearts and love to Kekai and to us, that you pause, and take a moment to love and hold those that are dear to you a moment longer than you would normally do.”
They wrote that he made a profound difference many lives, calling him “our sunshine.”
Two of the men who helped conduct the search for Mina also searched for Eller, Hawaii News reports.
Several of the rescuers who found Eller reunited with her again in person during an emotional reunion on Monday’s TODAY Show.
"You guys are the heroes,'' Eller told rescuers Javier Cantellops, Chris Berquist and Troy Helmer. "I am not the hero, I am just the girl sitting here healing my ankles."
Eller, physical therapist and yoga instructor, had become disoriented while out on her May 8 hike and got lost without the aid of her phone or GPS, which she typically leaves in her car while hiking, according to the TODAY Show.
She lost so much weight, she wasn’t sure she’d survive, she told the New York Times. She ate plants and berries, and even moths. Some nights she slept in mud. During at least one night, she slept in a boar’s den. At one point, she fell off a 20-foot cliff fracturing her leg and forcing her to crawl as her only means of getting around. One photo shows her ankles in rough condition. She was discovered deep in a ravine between two waterfalls, according to the official Facebook page which was created for the effort to find her.
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