A 3-year-old boy who was found alive after having been missing for days told family members that he had spent the time with a bear.
Casey Hathaway had been playing with other children on Tuesday when he vanished from his grandmother’s yard in a rural part of eastern North Carolina. He was found alive two days later after community search crews received a tip.
“He said he hung out with a bear for two days,” Hathaway said.
She was willing to roll with the story, saying, “God sent him a friend to keep him safe. … Miracles do happen.”
In another post, Hathaway said Casey likes to watch “Masha and the Bear,” a show about a girl who lives in the woods with a paternal bear who keeps her safe.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said at a news conference Thursday that search crews found Casey wet, cold and tangled in vines, but not seriously injured.
He was “a little lethargic, but warm,” when he was found, Hughes told WCTI-TV in an interview. The sheriff said Casey “wanted water and his mom” when he was found.
The boy “didn’t really get into... how he was able to survive,” though he did mention “having a friend in the woods who was a bear,” the sheriff added, without commenting further on that scenario.
There were no signs of abduction, Hughes said.
“He’s up and talking,” Casey’s mother, Brittany Hathaway, said at a news conference, after thanking search crews. “He’s already asked to watch Netflix, so he’s good, he’s good.”
The family is planning to set up a post office box to handle the huge wave of support, including from people who Hathaway said want to send stuffed teddy bears.
Breanna Hathaway posted on Facebook that the family appreciates the bear gifts but advises those sending them to “remember that he can only [take] home so many.”