Family of 3-Year-Old Casey Hathaway Says Missing Boy Was Protected by a Bear

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
January 25, 2019US News
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Family of 3-Year-Old Casey Hathaway Says Missing Boy Was Protected by a Bear
Casey Hathaway, 3, went missing from his grandmother's home in Ernul, North Carolina on Jan. 22, 2019. He was found on Jan. 24, 2019. (Craven County Sheriff's Office)

The family of Casey Hathaway, 3, who went missing in North Carolina on Jan. 22 and was found late Thursday, said that he was protected by a bear as he huddled in the forest amid temperatures that dipped below freezing.

“Casey is healthy, smiling, and talking. He said he hung out with a bear for two days. God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is [a] good God. Miracles do happen,” Casey’s aunt Breanna Hathaway said on Facebook shortly after he was found alive.

Casey was found in good condition despite being out in the cold for over 48 hours.

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes also said that Casey described spending two days hanging out with a bear, reported WNCT.

Casey is healthy, smiling, and talking. He said he hung out with a bear for two days God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is good God. Miracles do happen.

Breanna Hathaway 发布于 2019年1月24日周四

Hughes said early in the search that the boy wasn’t dressed properly for the weather, adding extra urgency to the search.

The forest, full of sinkholes and rough terrain, contributed to fears that the boy might not survive.

Hughes added at a press conference after the boy was found that rescuers heard the boy calling out to them. Following the sound of his voice, they found him tangled in vines and thorns.

“It’s a great evening, folks,” said Hughes at a press conference. “We brought Casey to his family just like we said we were going to do. We did not give up. We were persistent.”

Casey Lynn Hathaway
A missing poster that was circulated after Casey Hathaway vanished on Jan. 22, 2019. He was found safe on Jan. 24, 2019. (Craven County Sheriff’s Office)

He said the boy was in “good health.”

“Little fellow is happy, and his parents are very happy as well. When he saw us, his little sister, [he] had a big smile on his face. It’s just very, very touching,” he added.

Casey’s mother Brittany Hathaway also spoke briefly. She didn’t mention the bear.

“He’s good, he is good. He’s already up and talking, he’s already asked to watch Netflix, so he is good,” she told reporters.

911 Call Released

Officials released the 911 call from Casey’s great-grandmother on Thursday morning, hours before the boy was found.

In the call, she describes how Casey “was walking in the woods back there and we can’t find him,” reported WCTI.

His little sister had been with him, but she went back inside, the great-grandmother said. Officials described separately the situation as Casey being with two other children before going off on his own.

“The other ones come through the house but left him there and he walked off somewhere and we can’t find him,” Casey’s relative said. “It’s been at least 45 minutes cause we’ve been looking all over the woods for him.”

Dozens of volunteers helped in the initial search but officers later said they shifted towards professional rescue crews, partly due to the adverse weather making the search even harder.

missing children
Reve Walsh and John Walsh speak during The National Center For Missing And Exploited Children, the Fraternal Order of the Police and the Justice Departments’s 16th Annual Congressional Breakfast at The Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel in Washington on May 18, 2011. (Photo by Kris Connor/Getty Images)

Missing Children

There were 464,324 missing children reported in the FBI’s National Crime Information Center in 2017, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Under federal law, when a child is reported missing to law enforcement they must be entered into the database. In 2016, there were 465,676 entries.

“This number represents reports of missing children. That means if a child runs away multiple times in a year, each instance would be entered into NCIC separately and counted in the yearly total. Likewise, if an entry is withdrawn and amended or updated, that would also be reflected in the total,” the center noted.

In 2017, the center said it assisted officers and families with the cases of more than 27,000 missing children. In those cases, 91 percent were endangered runaways, and 5 percent were family abductions.

About one in seven children reported missing to the center in 2017 were likely victims of child sex trafficking.

Missing children typically fall into five categories: kidnapped by a family member, abducted by a nonfamily perpetrator, runaways, those who got lost, stranded, or injured, or those who went missing due to benign reasons, such as misunderstandings, according to a report by the Department of Justice (pdf) in 2017.

Reported missing children dropped from 6.5 per 1,000 children in 1999 to 3.1 per 1,000 children in 2013.

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