Casey Lynn Hathaway is a three-year-old from North Carolina. He vanished from his grandmother’s backyard while playing with his sister and his cousin. They came in when it was time… Casey didn’t. He was missing for two excruciating days last week in the cold. But in the end, he was found safe and sound and he claims he spent time with a bear while in the woods.
“They play out there all the time. They go back and forth from my house to my daughter’s house,” Julie Toler, Casey’s grandmother said. “I’m glad he’s fine because it would have been terrible for everybody if something happened to him.” The grandmother was beside herself with guilt over all of this. “I didn’t want to get warm because I knew he was cold. I didn’t want to eat because I knew he was hungry. It was just terrible.”
Around 9:30 p.m. on January 24th, a woman who had taken her dogs out for a walk heard Casey crying. A few minutes later, Captain Shane Grier of Chocowinity EMS found Casey about a quarter-mile from his grandmother’s house. He was approximately 50 yards into the woods, tangled up in briars and crying for his mom. The terrain was described as treacherous with flooded areas and sinkholes.
Casey was taken to the hospital and went home yesterday with his family. “It’s a great evening, folks. We’ve brought Casey to his family, just like we said we were going to do,” said Sheriff Chip Hughes. “We did not give up.” Nearly 600 volunteers, FBI, state officials, and divers combed the woods of eastern North Carolina for signs of the missing toddler in the frigid temps. Casey only had a few scrapes and is said to make a full recovery. The U.S. Marine Corps from nearby bases at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point also joined the effort to find the boy.
Casey claims that a bear kept him company. “Casey is healthy, smiling and talking,” Breanna Hathaway, Casey’s aunt wrote. “He said he hung out with a bear for two days God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is a good God. Miracles do happen.” His grandmother and family members searched the woods behind her home for 45 minutes before she frantically called 911.
Casey’s mother said, “We just want to tell everybody that we’re very thankful that you took the time out to come search for Casey and prayed for him, and he’s good. He is good, he is up and talking. He’s already asked to watch Netflix so he’s good.” He spent the day in the hospital “eating Cheetos, nuggets, and watching PAW Patrol,” according to his family.
A GoFundMe page was set up by the toddler’s grandmother at “the public’s request” and is entitled “Casey and the Bear.”
“This little one was lost in the woods for days in the freezing temperatures, rain, dark nights and wind,” the fundraising campaign reads. “He told us that his best friend the bear was with him to keep him safe. Thanks to God’s mercy he came home to us alive and well.”
Sources: The Daily Mail, Fox News, WCNC, BostonHerald.com