Missing Toddler Claimed He Was Protected By A Bear For Three Days

[Ernest Howard Shepard (illustrator), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons]

Casey Hathaway might be going by a different name for the rest of his life: Christopher Robin. The three-year-old boy went missing for three days in the woods near his house. 

“Casey was playing with two other relatives in his great-grandmother’s backyard Tuesday, but didn’t come inside when the others did, CNN affiliate WTVD reported.

His family searched for him for 45 minutes before calling 911, Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said.

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

Over the three days, the weather turned. The nights became cold and filled with freezing rain.

Rescue workers found Casey calling for his mother about a quarter of a mile away where he was 40 to 50 yards into woods. Soaking wet, cold and tangled in thorn bushes, the man who found him waded through waist-deep water to pick him up and take him home.

They asked him: how he got there, and how did he stay alive? 

That’s when he talked about the bear. 

“He hung out with a bear for two days,” is what his aunt Breanna Hathaway shared in a now-private Facebook post. She didn’t say whether the bear was real or imagined, according to USA Today.

His aunt called her nephew’s safety a “miracle” and said, “God sent him a friend to keep him safe.”

Casey’s mother gave authorities the same report, that he had a friend in the woods that was a bear, Sheriff Hughes told USA TODAY.

Hughes said bears are common in the area, but he thought the comment was more “cute” than factual. 

In an update on Casey’s case, the Craven County Sheriff’s Office shared a photo of Casey alongside a photo of a bear with a Bible verse from Matthew 18: “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.”

One outlet noted that this isn’t the first time a missing child has claimed to have been protected by a bear. Although the “story might sound far-fetched,” writes My Modern Met, “there are other accounts in which bears took care of kids stranded in the wilderness. In 1888, the New York Times reported on a 2-year-old girl who was found in a valley and claimed a bear had kept her warm. In 1955, another 2-year-old named Ida Mae Curtis spent two days in the Kootenai National Forest in Montana and was ‘comforted by a bear’ while there.”

summed In an interview, the sheriff  summed everything up with one line: “This kid was strong, he was meant to survive….He’s got a story to tell.”

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