A missing child who was found after spending two days in the North Carolina woods, says he “hung out with a bear.” Casey Hathaway, 3, had been playing in his great-grandmother’s yard in Craven County with two other children on Tuesday, when he wandered off into the woods, according to a news report by channel WITN.
After officials were alerted, hundreds of people, drones, helicopters and search dogs combed over 1,000 acres in search of the boy but were unable to locate him. Over the next two days, the area was hit by freezing temperatures and heavy rain, leading some to lose hope. Lisa Fraker, a member of the search party, was walking her dogs last Thursday evening when she heard what sounded like crying. After putting her dogs back inside, she found an EMS officer and asked him to listen as well.
“Next thing I know, he was coming back and telling me that yes, he heard something too. And the next thing I know, everybody was running up there and I heard he was found,” Fraker told WITN.
"He said he hung out with a bear for two days," Casey Hathaway's aunt posted on Facebook after the 3-year-old was found alive. "God sent him a friend to keep him safe," she insists. https://t.co/9pVKwZ0leS— HuffPost (@HuffPost) January 27, 2019
EMS Captain Shane Grier found Casey caught in a thorn bush. “You could tell he was very cold so we immediately started warming him up once we got him to the vehicle,” Grier said. “The more we warmed him up, it seemed the better he got.”
Casey, who had cuts and bruises, was taken to a local hospital. His aunt, Breanna Hathaway, wrote on Facebook that he was be fine. “Casey is healthy, smiling and talking. He said he hung out with a bear for two days. God sent him a friend to keep him safe,” she added, noting that one of Casey’s favorite shows is Masha and the Bear.
As for the bear, no one is sure if what Casey recalls is real or not. Some have speculated that the boy was abducted and then left in the woods, yet Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes believes he was in fact in the woods.
Missing 3-year-old boy Casey Lynn Hathaway has been found alive in North Carolina, an FBI spokeswoman says https://t.co/Dsvv3eU8i3— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 25, 2019
"The notion that he was sitting in a house or a vehicle for two days and put out there a couple of hours before we found him is absolutely not true. His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frostbite,” Hughes said. "A lot of it, according to what medical was telling us, was conducive for him being out in the elements for an extended period of time."
The sheriff, however, does believe that someone cared for Casey. He says the cold and wet weather, as well as the roughness of the terrain, make him believe that Casey was looked after. As for the bear, he’s not sure. “I don’t know if that meant he saw a bear. I don’t know if that meant a bear embraced him or what it meant.”
For now, authorities have ruled out any foul play. One Facebook user commented that she was reminded of the book, The Bear That Heard Crying, which is a fictionalized retelling of the true story of Sarah Whitcher, also 3, who was lost in the woods of New Hampshire in 1783 and was kept safe by a bear until she was rescued four days later.