Casey Hathaway was found after having been missing for two days, and told rescuers that a bear kept him safe.
A three-year-old boy from North Carolina is reportedly back home in good condition, "healthy, smiling, and talking," after spending two days in frigid temperatures.
Casey Hathaway told his family and rescuers that he "hung out with a bear" after disappearing from his grandmother's yard in Ernul. A two-day search effort ended when Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said crews followed up on a tip.
Casey was found tangled in vines and thorn bushes, was cold and wet, but otherwise had no reported major injuries.
Here's a local news report from WCTI.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes chats with Merrilee Moore this morning as 3-year-old Casey Hathaway rests at Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern.
Posted by WCTI NewsChannel 12 on Friday, January 25, 2019
The sheriff said, "He did say that he had a friend in the woods that was a bear that was with him..." Sheriff Hughes apparently misspoke in the video, claiming the bear was with him "...for two years," but we'll assume he meant two days.
Casey's aunt Breanna Hathaway wrote in a Facebook post that "He said he hung out with a bear for two days," according to BuzzFeed News. "God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is good God. Miracles do happen."
Black bears are the only species found in North Carolina, and the most recent numbers from the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission state there are about 17,000 in the state. Attacks on humans are very uncommon, but whether or not a bear would have actually looked after a small human is up for debate.
Though the Sheriff's office seemed reluctant to make much of the bear part of the story, it's easily the most intriguing aspect of a situation that captured the attention of many throughout the two-day search for Casey.
Now, as expected, an outpouring of support (and a ton of teddy bears) are being sent to the Hathaway family.