Tech is vital element in search for missing Hawaii woman

WAILUKU, Hawaii — Technology is becoming a vital element in the search for a woman who went missing in a rural Hawaii forest.

Volunteers searching for 35-year-old Amanda Heller are employing GPS devices and computers with live feeds and real-time data from the parking lot of the Makawao Forest Reserve on Maui, The Maui News reported Monday.

There is no evidence of foul play, but police said they continue to investigate.

Eller, who was last seen May 8, is believed to be lost in the reserve near her home in Haiku, where her vehicle was found. Friends have said she liked to run and hike.

Chris Berquist and others have coordinated the search by deploying volunteers with GPS apps for iPhones and Android devices.

"They come back to base, upload that data, and five minutes later it's on our live screen," Berquist said.

As the search for the physical therapist entered Day 11 on Sunday, the focus was on filling the live map with GPS search information.

The map showed areas saturated by searchers and others needing coverage in to fill the search perimeter around the spot where Eller's vehicle was recovered, Berquist said.

Search leaders are equipped with iPads, laptops and smartphones, while whiteboards and paper charts are used to track volunteers and contact information for drivers and commercial drone operators.

Family and friends have also relied on Facebook to gather and distribute information. Sarah Haynes emphasized the need for video from the area beginning May 8.

"There's never enough footage," she said.

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Information from: The Maui News, http://www.mauinews.com

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