The story of a missing three-year-old boy from Ernul, North Carolina had a happy ending yesterday, as a search and rescue team found him alive and well in the woods near his family home.
Casey Hathaway was playing with friends in his grandmother’s backyard on Tuesday when he disappeared.
The Craven County Sheriff’s Department and community members spent two days trying to track down the boy in rain and winds so intense some volunteers were turned away for their own safety.
Local police, the FBI, NCIS, and even the US Marine Corps joined the search for Hathaway that meticulously combed more than 1,000 acres of difficult to navigate terrain.
In a 911 call made 45 minutes after Hathaway went missing, the boy’s grandmother had suggested he may have gotten lost in the woods.
"He was walking in the woods back there and we can't find him," she told the dispatcher. "The other ones come through the house but left him there and he walked off somewhere and we can't find him."
In spite of concerns that Hathaway was caught outside in the storm, in almost freezing temperatures, without winter clothes, police say he is healthy and doing well after being returned to his family.
The boy reportedly only suffered a few cuts and scrapes from his time in the woods, which is incredibly lucky considering the dangerous circumstances.
The area where Hathaway was found has been described as "treacherous" by the sheriff’s office, as parts were "flooded and filled with sinkholes" that put even the professional search and rescue team at risk.
Sheriff Chip Hughes and Casey's family shared the good news at a press conference:
Missing NC 3-year-old found alive, sheriff says
FOUND ALIVE AND WELL: 3-year-old Casey Hathaway was found alive and in good health Thursday night. "He is good! He is up and talking, and he's already asked to watch Netflix." LATEST: http://bit.ly/2FOcEzxPosted by FOX 46 Charlotte on Friday, January 25, 2019
Casey’s mother shared an obvious sign that her son was recovering quickly from his ordeal: "He’s already asked to watch Netflix, so he’s good," she told reporters.
Sheriff Chip Hughes said at a news conference that there are no signs he was abducted.