A three-year-old boy who was found safe and sound after he went missing for two days, claims a friendly bear looked after him in the woods.
Casey Hathaway was found on Thursday (January 24) following disappearing from his great-grandmother’s backyard on Tuesday (January 22), launching a search party in Craven County, North Carolina.
After a search was called off on Tuesday due to bad conditions, rescuers found Casey caught up in thorny bushes responding to reports of a baby crying.
Although he was cold and soaked through, Hathaway was healthy.
The three-year-old told police and relatives he spent time with a bear while lost in the woods of North Carolina, a state which is home to plenty of black bears.
According to NCPedia, ‘as of 2012, there were approximately 17,000 bears in the state, occupying 61 per cent of the state’s total land area’.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told WCTI News Channel 12:
All the calls we were getting in regards to ‘we heard this in the woods’, there might be a sighting, no call was insignificant. We diligently went after every call.
This one came in, they thought they heard a child crying in the woods. We sent deputies and rescuers right over there. He was about 40 or 50 yards into the woods, tangled up, still had his coat on, a little lethargic.
Of course he wanted water, and his mum. He didn’t really get into how he was able to survive, he did say he had a friend in the woods that was a bear that was with him for two years.
But just the look on his face when his little sister came into the room, it was tear-jerking.
Obviously two years is a lot longer than two days, but that is what the good Sheriff said.
As reported by WSOCTV, mum Brittany Hathaway said Casey is doing well and has ‘already asked to watch Netflix’.
We just wanna tell everybody that we’re very thankful that you took the time out to come search for Casey, and pray for him. And he’s good, he is good. He’s up and talking. He’s already asked to watch Netflix, so he’s good, he is good.
I presume some of his favourite films to watch include Paddington, The Jungle Book and Christopher Robin.
Nearly 600 volunteers joined state investigators, the FBI and the US Marine Corps in the effort to find Casey with 220 acres covered by the search.
It is still currently unclear where Casey was in the woods during the two days he went missing, or how he survived.
Authorities have stated Casey wasn’t adequately dressed for the weather, while Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes expressed concern over sinkholes and deep water ditches which are in the area.
Volunteers were turned away on Thursday’s search because of safety concerns.
Joe Monette of the North Carolina Forest Service told WSOCTV:
We don’t want to make an incident into another incident. It is an array of ditches, water – you name it, it is here.
Investigators have added there is no sign of abduction.
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Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.