‘Emergency search’ underway for toddler boy who reportedly vanished while playing in grandmother’s backyard

The search continues for a 3-year-old North Carolina boy who was reportedly last seen playing in his grandmother’s backyard Tuesday afternoon.

According to WCTI, Craven County police said Casey Hathaway was playing with two other children but didn’t come inside with them at around 1 p.m. The grandmother reportedly searched for Hathaway for 45 minutes before calling 911 from the Ernul home.

As of Wednesday, 400-500 volunteers are assisting authorities in what they have called an “emergency search” for the missing toddler. Police said divers are assessing a pond located near his grandmother’s home but haven’t taken to the waters.

During a Wednesday afternoon press conference, Craven County police said they’re looking into multiple leads that have come in following Hathaway’s disappearance. They also said the boy’s family is cooperating with their ongoing investigation.

Authorities are especially worried about the toddler’s wellbeing as temperatures have dipped below freezing. Local police also revealed that the rugged, wooded terrain has posed an obstacle in their on-foot and aerial searches.

Though police said they’ve hadn’t ruled out the possibility of an abduction or kidnapping in Hathaway’s disappearance, the FBI said they have no evidence suggesting the toddler didn’t walk off on his own accord, according to WTVD.

Hathaway was described as being 2 feet 4 inches, 25 pounds, and having strawberry blonde hair. He was reportedly last seen wearing a blue coat and dark-colored pants.

This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information regarding Casey Hathaway’s whereabouts can call the Craven County Sheriff’s Office at 252-633-0498 or the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation at 919-662-4500.

Residents living in the area are asked to check storage sheds, vehicles, and their property for the child. Please…

Posted by Craven County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

 [Featured image: Casey Hathaway/Handout]