Missing three-year-old boy found alive and well says he 'hung out with a bear'

Missing three-year-old boy found alive and well says he 'hung out with a bear'

A three-year-old boy who was missing for three days has been found alive and well, and says that he was kept company by a bear as his family breathes a sigh of relief. He had disappeared earlier this week, and although his family called the police almost immediately, he had been missing for more than three days.

Back on Tuesday, three-year-old Casey Hathaway had been playing with his relatives at his great-grandmother's house in Craven County, North Carolina, but didn't come in when everyone else did. After searching for him for around 45 minutes, the family called the police, and a search was immediately underway.

"He was walking in the woods back there and we can't find him," his great-grandmother said on the phone when she called the 911 dispatcher to explain the situation. "The other ones come through the house but left him there and he walked off somewhere and we can't find him."

Search and rescue teams comprising of the FBI, NCIS, dozens of volunteers and the US Marine Corps all came together to try to find the boy, and the teams needed all the help they could get; heavy rain, gusty wind and extreme cold greeted the authorities, and the weather got so bad they had to turn volunteers away.

Searching nearly 1,000 acres worth of wooded area around the Craven County location, on Friday, they heard the three-year-old crying for his mother. Following the call around 50 yards through water into the woods, they found Casey tangled up in some vines - extremely cold, but responsive and alive.

"It was folks giving us tips and leads," said Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes once Casey had been safely found. Due to the "extreme cold", Hughes was worried about the toddler's safety, but against all odds, Casey is safe and sound. "We hit every one of them immediately and it paid off," he said.

"Casey is healthy, smiling, and talking," said Breanna Hathaway, Casey's aunt, while his mother, Brittany Hathaway, paid tribute to the search parties that had helped to bring her son home, saying that Casey's already in the mood for some Netflix.

"We just want to tell everybody that we're very thankful that you took the time out to come search for Casey and prayed for him, and he's good. He is good, he is up and talking. He's already asked to watch Netflix so he's good."

"The little fella is happy and his parents are very happy as well," added Hughes in a press conference. "When he saw his little sister, [he] had a big smile on his face."

"We appreciate the thoughts but we do want to recognize that everyone wants to get Casey a stuff little bear and although we absolutely love that remember that he can only home so many," said Brittany on Facebook, revealing that Casey loves Batman, PAW Patrol, and Masha and the Bear, where a young who lives in the forest gets taken care of by a guardian bear.

Hughes says that Casey likely wandered off, and that there was no cause to believe an abduction was involved.