A 3-year-old boy who went missing in the woods in North Carolina for 2 days says a bear looked after him

Salwan Georges / The Washington Post via Getty ImagesNorth Carolina is home to thousands of black bears.
  • A 3-year-old boy told family and rescuers that he “hung out with a bear” for two days after getting lost in the woods in North Carolina.
  • Casey Hathaway was found alive and well despite spending two days in freezing temperatures by himself.
  • Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told local news that Casey said a bear was with him in the forest.
  • North Carolina is home to thousands of black bears, which normally avoid contact with humans and rarely attack.
  • Casey has reportedly been inundated with stuffed bears from well-wishers after the news of his return broke.

Three-year-old Casey Hathaway, who went missing for two days after getting lost in the woods in North Carolina, told his family and rescuers that a bear kept him safe.

Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told local news that they found the boy 40 to 50 yards into the woods after responding to a report that a child crying could be heard nearby.

Despite freezing conditions during the night, Casey was found a little lethargic but warm, the sheriff said.

Asked if Casey had been able to verbalize how he’d stayed alive in the forest by himself, the sheriff said, “He did say that he had a friend in the woods that was a bear that was with him.”

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Casey’s aunt Breanna Hathaway reportedly echoed this in a Facebook post that has since been deleted.

“He said he hung out with a bear for two days,” Hathaway wrote, according to BuzzFeed News. “God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is good God. Miracles do happen.”

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According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the black bear is the only species of bear found in North Carolina, and there were about 17,000 in the state as of 2012. Its diet includes berries, nuts, and small animals, and attacks on humans are very rare.

Hathaway reportedly added that the family would set up a post-office box to accommodate the influx of gifts being sent to Casey, but warned that he could only house so many stuffed bears.

“We appreciate the thoughts but we do want to recognise that everyone wants to get Casey a stuff little bear and although we absolutely love that remember that he can only home so many,” Hathaway wrote.

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