After playing in the yard with friends, 3-year-old Casey was nowhere to be found when it was time to come inside.
Casey’s great-grandmother searched everywhere — deciding to then call the police for help.
A search began for Casey Hathaway in Craven County, North Carolina, after the little boy went missing for days.
Police dogs did their part by sniffing through icy underbrush while Casey’s family attempted to have faith and not assume the worst.
In the interim, the temperatures were severely dropping and Craven County Sheriff, Chip Hughes, believed that it would be a miracle if Casey were going to survive after this long.
Then one man on the search team heard a tiny voice yelling out.
He then followed the cries deep into the woods past a freezing pond and discovered little Casey Hathaway huddled up in some briars.
“His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frostbite,” Sheriff Hughes said.
Casey was then whisked away to the local hospital where he would begin to regain his strength and see his family.
At the hospital while he was resting — Casey then shared with his mom something very special about his time in the woods.
Casey shared how while he was lost in the woods —- a bear had looked after him.
His aunt shared Casey’s story on Facebook, saying:
“He said he hung out with a bear for two days … God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is a good God. Miracles do happen.”
Casey’s story has since made international news and folks have gone back and forth with the idea if such a thing is even possible.
Wildlife photographer, Chris Norcott, spends a lot of time with North Carolina’s black bear population and has vetted for Casey — saying the story could be true as he has heard of similar stories in the past.
“I believe him,” Norcott shared with The Dodo. “Over the years, I’ve seen many behaviors which demonstrated their concern and nurturing side … towards their own offspring [and] other animals.”
“This could certainly be possible,” Norcott said.
According to Defenders of Wildlife, “Black bears tend to be solitary animals, with the exception of mothers and cubs. The bears usually forage alone, but will tolerate each other and forage in groups if there is an abundance of food in one area.”
“I don’t know if that meant he saw a bear,” Sheriff Hughes said. “I don’t know if that meant a bear embraced him or what it meant.”
But in the end, for Casey’s sake, it does not matter.
If the bear (real or a figment of they boy’s imagination) helped Casey survive while he was alone and scared — that in and of itself is an amazing thing.
The community has even started to send Casey teddy bears to congratulate him on his safe return home.
“I thought it was a very cute story,” Sheriff Hughes said, “and if that’s what helped that child survive through this, you know what, I’m to going to embrace that story.”
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