This is an extraordinary story. That of little Casey Hathaway, a three year-old, who was wandering through the dense forests of North Carolina for two days. Once found, in perfect health, he explained that a bear had taken care of him during these 48 hours…
A fairy tale?
A three year-old child from the state of North Carolina, in the eastern United States of America, was found by authorities in the heart of the woods, where he got lost on January 22nd.
At the time of his rescue, he explained to the police that he had been protected by a bear during the two days of his disappearance.
Casey Hathaway went missing in the evening of Tuesday, January 22nd, in the woods near his grandmother's house in the town of Ernul, a region where black bears (Ursus Americanus) are very numerous.
The child was playing with two neighbourhood children in his grandparents' garden when he disappeared.
The police were immediately called and they launched a vast search and rescue campaign in the surrounding woods, but while the temperatures fell well below zero in January, the police could not find any trace of the small boy, despite using drones, helicopters and a hundred volunteers.
Safe and sound
On Thursday, the rain and winds were so violent that the search was momentarily interrupted. Finally, little Casey Hathaway was found in the evening of Thursday, January 24th very tired, suffering from hypothermia, but overall healthy.
He was about 1300 feet from his grandmother's house, curled up in a thorny bush.
His aunt, Brenna Hathaway, first reported the child’s story:
‘Casey is healthy, he's smiling and he's talking, and he said he spent two days with a bear.’
And the Craven County Sheriff, Chip Hughes, pointed out:
‘Casey Hathaway said he had a friend in the woods and that friend was a bear.’
So is it possible that a black bear really took care of the child? Hard to say. Black bears, which are very numerous in the United States and are relatively accustomed to contact with urbanisation, are generally not aggressive towards humans.
And if little Casey really did cross paths with a bear, which is not impossible, there would be no reason for it to consider the toddler as a threat. But to go so far as to say that the mammal took care of the child, preventing it from dying of hypothermia... we won't go that far (yet).