A 3-year-old boy who went missing for three days has told authorities that a friendly bear kept him company when he was lost and alone in the woods in North Carolina.
Casey Hathaway went missing but was found Friday after he got entangled in a patch of thorny bushes and was missing in freezing conditions.
Little Casey said the the presence of a black bear kept him company. He told police and his aunt the story.
Rescuers searched for Casey in the difficult Craven County, North Carolina, a 1,000 acres of heavily wooded areas. They finally found Casey calling for his mom around Thursday night.
Casey went missing after he was playing with two other relatives in his great-grandmother’s backyard Tuesday. His family searched for 45 minutes before calling 911.
“He was walking in the woods back there and we can’t find him,” his great-grandmother told the 911 dispatcher.
The other ones come through the house but left him there and he walked off somewhere and we can’t find him.”
Search and rescue teams from across the state immediately came together to brave the treacherous terrain and low temperatures hoping to find Casey.
The FBI, NCIS, dozens of volunteers and the US Marine Corps also joined the effort to find the boy. Casey’s aunt Breanna Hathaway said the boy told her that a bear kept him company.
He said he hung out with a bear for two days,” Hathaway wrote in a Facebook post. “God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is a good God. Miracles do happen.”
This seemingly remarkable tale of Jungle Book-style inter-species friendship was most likely the product of Casey’s imagination, however, according to one veteran bear expert, quoted in The Guardian
“I’ve never known such a thing to happen, bears don’t do that,” said Chris Servheen, a bear researcher at the University of Montana.
“Wild bears aren’t friends with people. I don’t want to say he’s not telling the truth, he obviously thinks he’s seen things and maybe he’s got a teddy bear at home. But I’ve seen no evidence anything like that has ever happened.”