ERNUL, N.C. — The mother of a 3-year-old boy who was missing for two days before he was found alive in North Carolina says he’s doing well and “already asked to watch Netflix.”
At a news conference Thursday night, Brittany Hathaway thanked the nearly 600 volunteers who turned out to search for Casey Lynn Hathaway after he went missing from his grandmother’s backyard Tuesday.
A search and rescue professional, Shane Grier, described finding the boy to news outlets. Searchers responding to tip had heard Casey calling for his mother Thursday and the Chocowinity EMS captain subsequently found him around 50 yards (45 meters) into the woods, entangled in briars.
“He was cold but he was verbal in command to us. The more we warmed him up, the more active he became,” Grier said. “For the conditions, I think he fared pretty well.”
Authorities had said Casey wasn’t adequately dressed for the weather, as temperatures hovering around freezing mingled with intermittent rain. Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes had expressed concern about sinkholes and deep water ditches in the area, and divers were dispatched to assess nearby ponds. Volunteers were even turned away for Thursday’s search because of safety concerns.
“We don’t want to make an incident into another incident,” Joe Monette of the North Carolina Forest Service had said. “It is an array of ditches, water – you name it, it is here.”
The FBI, state investigators and the U.S. Marine Corps from nearby bases at Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point joined the effort to find Casey. Hughes says searchers covered 220 acres (89 hectares).
It’s still uncertain where Casey was during those two days and what enabled him to stay safe. Hughes believes Casey moved around.
When he was found, he was still wearing his jacket, zipped up. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
“We brought Casey to his family, just like we said we were going to do,” he said. “I could not be happier by the way this turned out.”