When a North Carolina boy who was miraculously found alive after spending nearly three days alone in the cold said a bear kept him company, many people found it hard to believe.
ABC reports that Casey Hathaway, 3, disappeared from his grandmother’s house last Tuesday at around 1 p.m., while playing outside with other children. For days, over 100 search professionals and law enforcement officers were out looking for Casey, yet couldn’t find him, despite search dogs, professional search crews, volunteers, and drones.
On Thursday, authorities found Casey tangled up in briars and thorn patches close to his grandmother’s Craven County home, and not far from where he disappeared. He was later transported to the Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern for a medical evaluation, and released a few days later.
3-year-old Casey Hathaway is recovering after being lost in the woods behind his grandmother's house for two days. EMS…
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said authorities had to go through waist-high water to get to the boy. He was found with scratches on his face and arms, and wearing wet clothes and a jacket, when a nearby neighbor heard him crying out. The sheriff said Casey asked for his mother when found.
Casey later reportedly told his family that a bear, his new friend, watched over him while he was lost. Since then, many social media users claimed there is no way the boy could have survived alone and no way a bear helped him. Others speculated that the boy was abducted, then dropped back off when the kidnapper saw national news on the case and got frightened.
Hughes says the theory is simply untrue.
“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, absolutely not. That is absolutely not true. His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frostbite. 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.”
Hughes said he’ll continue to investigate the incident regardless, but there has been no evidence or indication of an abduction. The sheriff also said whether or not a bear actually saved Casey doesn’t matter at this point, since he is home and safe, and doing well.
“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,” said Hughes. “I thought it was a very cute story and if that’s what helped that child survive through this, you know what, I’m to going to embrace that story that came from a 3-year-old to his mom, to us.”
[Feature Photo: Casey Hathaway/Handout]