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A 3-Year-Old Who Went Missing For Two Days Said He "Hung Out With A Bear"

Every parent worries to no end about their child going missing. There are so many ways for our fragile little ones to end up in a bad situation, and those are the ones you tend to remember most from the news, so you can't help worrying.

It's only natural to hope that a missing child will get some help when they're out in the world on their own. That's the surest way to get a happy result. But to get help from a bear? That's what one little boy is claiming after spending two awful nights alone - or maybe not-so-alone - in the woods.

On January 22, North Carolina's Casey Hathaway, age 3, went missing.

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He was outside playing with two other kids in his great-grandmother's yard, and when the other two went inside, Casey wasn't with them. The family spent 45 minutes searching for him, with no luck.

They didn't wait any longer to call 911.

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"He was walking in the woods back there and we can't find him," his great-grandmother told the 911 dispatcher, according to CNN. "The other ones come through the house but left him there and he walked off somewhere and we can't find him."

A massive ground search followed.

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Hundreds of volunteers showed up to help the FBI, the sheriff's office, and several area search and rescue teams, comb hundreds of acres of rugged terrain looking for Casey.

Helicopters, drones, K-9s, and divers were also brought in to try to find the boy.

Temperatures dropped below freezing that night, and the next night, the area received about two inches of rain.

Facebook | Breanna Hathaway

Conditions were bad enough that the search had to be suspended. The authorities said they couldn't rule out an abduction or kidnapping, but Casey certainly wasn't dressed for two cold nights out in the woods alone.

However, the next day provided the miracle they had all been hoping for.

A woman out walking her dogs called police to let them know she could hear a child crying out in the woods nearby.

Facebook | Breanna Hathaway

It was Casey, tangled up in vines and thorns, calling out for his mother. Rescuers had to wade through waist-high water to reach him.

He was taken to a hospital, but he made it through his ordeal with little other than some scrapes and swollen hands and feet.

According to Craven County Sheriff’s Office, rumours about what really happened to the child were “rampant.”

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Without knowing the facts, people began spitting out theories left and right — some believing Casey was abducted and later left in the woods, rather than lost.

However, the evidence did not support that theory.

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“The notion that he was sitting in a house or a vehicle for two days and put out there a couple of hours before we found him is absolutely not true,” said Sheriff Chip Hughes.

“His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frostbite."

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“A lot of it, according to what medical was telling us, was conducive for him being out in the elements for an extended period of time,” he concluded.

Hughes still wanted to set the record straight, though.

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“Everybody's got a theory about what took place, and how there is no way this child could have survived,” he said.

According to him, it was “by the grace of God that Casey did survive.” But according to Casey, it's a whole other story.

So how did a 3-year-old describe how he managed to survive out in the cold, wet woods for two nights with relatively minor injuries?


He chalks it up to a friendly, helpful bear. "He said he hung out with a bear for two days," his aunt, Breanna Hathaway, wrote on Facebook. "God sent him a friend to keep him safe."

Obviously experts have cast some doubt on Casey's story.

"I've never known such a thing to happen, bears don't do that," Chris Servheen, a University of Montana bear researcher, told The Guardian.

Wild bears aren't friends with people. I don't want to say he's not telling the truth,” he said.

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“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." the specialist concluded.

However, the local sheriff's office wasn't quite so quick to dismiss the idea of a Baloo/Mowgli situation altogether.

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"I thought it was a very cute story and if that’s what helped that child survive through this, you know what, I’m to going to embrace that story that came from a three-year-old, to his mom, to us," Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said in a Facebook post.

It does seem far-fetched, but hey, nobody can prove a bear didn't help little Casey out there!

While it may or may not have been a bear, Sheriff Hughes was sure about one thing.

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“The coldness, the wet and just the terrain we were dealing with, this kid was looked after, make no mistake about it,” he said.

h/t CNN

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