Three-year-old Casey Hathaway has been found by rescuers tangled in bushes in Craven County, North Carolina, after disappearing from his grandmother's home for two nights.
Hathaway went missing on Tuesday in subzero temperatures, and heavy rain and strong winds caused the search to be called off overnight.
He was located by police after a local woman heard a child crying and calling for their mother roughly 45 metres into the woodlands. Miraculously, after two freezing cold nights, he was alive, claiming that a bear took care of him.
The Craven County sheriff told a local TV station; “He didn’t really get into how he was able to survive and all that. He did say he had a friend in the woods that was a bear that was with him.”
The young boy's aunt, Breanna Hathaway, wrote on Facebook that; “Casey is healthy, smiling and talking. 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.”
There are many black bears in North Carolina who aren't typically aggressive towards humans, although it's unclear whether the bear existed or not.
Casey's family set up a fundraising page after well-wishers asked how to make donations. A statement on the page underneath the title Casey and the Bear, writes;
“This little one was lost in the woods for days in the freezing temperatures, rain, dark nights and wind,” wrote his grandmother. “He told us that his best friend the bear was with him to help keep him safe.”
The sheriff said he was “wet, cold and scratched up”, and dehydrated, but still in good health. He was taken to hospital for an evaluation. The little boy went missing while playing with two children in his grandmother's back garden.
Feature image: WRAL-TV