Casey Hathaway, Rescued 3-Year-Old Found In Woods, Says 'Friendly Bear' Kept Him Safe
Police launched a massive manhunt for Casey Hathaway including K-9 units, drones, and helicopters as well as divers.
ERNUL, NC — Casey Hathaway, the three-year-old who went missing for two days after getting lost in the woods in North Carolina, told police that a friendly bear kept him safe during his ordeal.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said that officers were responding to reports of a baby crying when they found the boy 40 to 50 yards into the woods off Aurora Road, tangled in thorny bushes.
Despite brutal weather conditions and temperatures that dropped into the low 20s, Hathaway was found safe. He only had a few scratches and asked for some water.
Hughes stated that Casey “did say he had a friend in the woods that was a bear that was with him." The black bear is the only species native to North Carolina.
According to BuzzFeed News, Casey's aunt, Breanna Hathaway, wrote about the boy’s claims in a Facebook post:
"He said he hung out with a bear for two days," Hathaway wrote in the now-deleted post. "God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is a good God. Miracles do happen."
Hughes did not comment on whether he believed that the bear was real or imaginary – but called Casey a “survivor.”
Casey had been playing with two other children in his grandmother’s backyard in Ernul on Tuesday, but did not come inside with them. Police launched a massive manhunt for Casey including K-9 units, drones, and helicopters as well as divers.
Temperatures dropped to the low 20s, and by Thursday the wind and rain had become so bad authorities urged volunteers to stay away.
The family plans to set up a P.O. box to receive gifts that have been sent to Casey. But Breanna Hathaway notes, "We appreciate the thoughts, but we do want to recognize that everyone wants to get Casey a stuff little bear and although we absolutely love that, remember that he can only home so many."
Casey was seen this morning in New Bern. He "looked healthy" and was sitting on his father's lap, according to WITN.
Read more: Insider, WITN, The Guardian, Buzzfeed News