Bears can be both adorable and terrifying. They’ve been known to attack when they feel that their cubs or safety are at risk. But one incident tells another story. Casey Hathaway was a 3-year-old who went missing for 2 days in deadly weather. The toddler claims he was saved by a bear.
Casey Hathaway Survived 2 Nights of Sub-Freezing Temps and Rain
The story of Casey’s missing status made national headlines. He was playing with two relatives in his great-grandmother, Julie Toler’s backyard, which abutted a forest in Craven County, North Carolina. It was a Tuesday afternoon in January 2019. When the other kids went inside, Casey was nowhere to be found.
Casey Hathaway’s family searched for him for 45 minutes before calling 911. Soon, the Craven County Sheriff’s Department, FBI, US Marine Corps, NCIS, and dozens of volunteers were looking for him. K-9 units, helicopters, and drones were deployed. It began raining, dropping 2 inches of precipitation, and the temps dropped below 20 degrees. Casey, who stood under 2 and a half feet tall, was surely a lost cause.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes recalled the case being one of the most difficult he’s had to work on.
“I can remember the call coming through the radio that a small child had gone missing,” said Hughes. He was reminiscing on the case one year after Casey went missing. “The emotions started running in, you know, that we’ve got a small child missing in a wooded area.”
But two days later, on Thursday evening, a neighbor heard a voice calling for his mom. It was little Casey, about 40 to 50 yards away from the road. He was stuck in some thorn bushes and the rescue team had to tread through waist-deep water to get to him. Casey was reunited with his family and then brought to the CarolinaEast Medical Center.
The Toddler Said a Bear Saved Him and Was His “Friend”
Authorities and everyone involved were perplexed at how Casey could have survived such brutal weather. He was cold but alive. But temperatures of 20 degrees, mixed with rain, would cause anyone hypothermia and could lead to death within hours. Yet Casey was okay. How could that be?
Casey Hathaway told his family that he was saved by a bear friend. While in the hospital, he kept talking about how the bear kept him safe. His aunt, Breanna Hathaway, wrote about it on a Facebook post, although that post is now private.
“He said he hung out with a bear for two days,” wrote Breanna. For the record, bears are abundant in that part of North Carolina. In fact, it was part of the search teams’ concerns. What if Casey were to be attacked by a bear or a coyote? But the toddler claimed that, on the contrary, a bear took care of him and saved him from the deadly elements.
No One Can Prove Casey Wasn’t Saved by a Bear
Of course, not everyone believes little Casey Hathaway. But, as CNN pointed out, “No one can prove it didn’t happen.”
“He made a comment about having a friend while he was in the woods — his friend was a bear,” Craven County Sheriff’s Maj. David McFadyen told CNN. “In the emergency room he started talking about what happened in the woods and he said he had a friend that was a bear with him while he was in the woods.”
Casey’s mom told Inside Edition that she believes that a bear saved her toddler. “If he said he was with a bear, he was with a bear,” she said.
Wildlife Watch believes a bear could have saved Casey, too.