Little Casey Hathaway was lost and alone. It was January in North Carolina, and conditions were unforgiving. It was dead of winter, and temperatures were freezing.
When Casey went missing, his family was understandably distraught and worried sick. Two nights passed before a miracle happened. The child was found alive. No one could understand how he survived until he told a story that was stranger than fiction.
Casey Hathaway was a regular kid. He loved smiling, riding a bike, playing with his cousins, and exploring. His grandmother’s home was perfect for all of this.
Her backyard led out into the woods, with acres of land to explore. There was just one problem, Casey was only 3-years-old.
Casey and his family lived in Craven County, North Carolina. It had a population of just over 100000 and was known for its rich history. It was an important region during the civil war, and its history dates back hundreds of years.
The county holds many attractions and fantastic nature trails, such as Creekside Park and the Croatan National Forest. However, it is also known for another concerning reason.
According to Chris Kent, a Coastal Regional Wildlife Biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the region has one of the highest densities of black bears.
In fact, there have been more frequent reports of bears wandering into properties and even people’s homes. With this kind of close contact becoming more common, it was only a matter of time before disaster struck.
It was a typical day at the Hathaway home back in January 2019 when the incident occurred. Little Casey was playing outside with his cousins and wandered a little too far into the woods behind her yard.
At first, the family thought he was just hiding or playing a game. Time began passing, and it soon became apparent that Casey was no prank. Casey was really missing.
The family was worried but also hesitant to accept the truth at first. Not wanting to sound the alarm bells too early, they waited an hour and searched on their own as much as possible.
The family grew deeply concerned when there was still no sign of the little boy. It was time to call the authorities.
Before long, Casey’s story elicited a massive search. Besides local law enforcement, there were also marines, the FBI, and other agencies assisting with the search.
As time wore on, Casey’s family grew distraught with fear. Despite all the help, an entire day passed, and the little boy still wasn’t found.
By day two, all the people involved tried to stay upbeat. There was, however, an elephant in the room. Law enforcement personnel knew from experience that time was essential.
Slowly, everyone was starting to lose hope. It was a well-known fact that, statistically, the chances of finding a missing child dropped drastically if they weren’t found within the first 24 hours. It was now more than 48 hours since the boy went missing.
By the third day, there was another looming threat. It was the dead of winter, and temperatures were freezing. To top it all off, it had been raining heavily the past two nights.
Casey’s family was grief-stricken at the thought of the little boy out there all alone in this weather. It seemed impossible for him to survive against all these odds.
Refusing to give up, Casey’s family and the authorities widened the search area. Teams of people combed through every inch of the woods.
There was still no sign of the boy. No one wanted to say it, but it was beginning to feel like all their efforts were futile. Then something miraculous happened.
Incredibly, Casey was found huddled in a thicket deep inside the woods. He was understandably freezing cold and very scared but, somehow, seemed to be okay.
After being taken to the hospital, warmed up, and treated for minor scrapes, everyone was curious to hear how the toddler had survived two nights alone in the freezing cold. What he said shocked everyone.
According to Casey, he hung out “with a bear” for two nights, and it helped keep him warm and safe. Everyone was understandably shocked to hear this.
Whatever the truth was, Casey’s family and the entire community were just relieved to have him back in one piece. The little boy was a walking miracle. The big question was whether his story about the bear was true?
There certainly were a lot of bears in the area, so it wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility that he’d encountered one. Still, it seemed so incredible that it was hard to believe that the press and community had many questions with no answers.
While there was no way to confirm his story, the fact that he’d survived in such frigid temperatures did leave many questions. There was also the fact that this wasn’t the first time such a story had been reported.
Way back in 1880, the New York Times reported on the story of a 2-year-old girl who was lost in the wilderness. Her story took place in the Kootenai National Forest in Montana.
However, strangely, she also claimed to have been “comforted by a bear” while there. No matter how far-fetched it seemed, there was, therefore, a possibility that Casey was telling the truth.
We may never know the truth about whether young Casey really was saved by a bear or not. Regardless, his survival was still a miraculous one. After such a nightmarish ordeal, his family was just grateful he was safe. The family had narrowly avoided a catastrophe, and bear or no bear, Casey was indeed one lucky little boy.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.