Relative Who Cared for Missing Boy Casey Hathaway Speaks Out: ‘Tough Little Fella’

January 27, 2019 Updated: January 27, 2019

A relative for 3-year-old Casey Hathaway, who went missing for several days before he was found, said the boy is a “tough little fella.”

Julie Toler said the outcome of the two-day search to find her great-grandson is a “miracle,” WRAL reported. Toler said she lost sight of the child on Tuesday, Jan. 22 while he was playing outside in Craven County, North Carolina.

Posted by Breanna Hathaway on Saturday, January 26, 2019

“They play out there all the time. They go back and fourth from my house to my daughter’s house,” Toler said.

She added: “I’m glad he’s fine because it would have been terrible for everybody if something happened to him.”

Casey survived freezing temperatures and heavy downpours while he was missing. A Facebook post from a relative said the boy told them that a bear protected him. According to the station, his family doesn’t know if that’s true but they’re just glad he is safe.

“I felt guilty,” Toler told WRAL. “I didn’t want to get warm because I knew he was cold. I didn’t want to eat because I knew he was hungry. It was just terrible.”

A neighbor walking her dog eventually found the boy on Jan. 24. They heard him crying for his mother.

Officials said he was found about 100 feet into the woods and tangled in thorn bushes.

His rescue, according to Chocowinity EMS Captain Shane Grier, was miraculous.

“He went through some very bad conditions, weather-wise,” Grier told 6ABC. “We had heavy rain. Everything in there was wet. Everything was wet. It’s just not a good situation for anyone. Even a trained professional would have difficulty in that environment.”

“We immediately at that time got him out because the conditions were really cold, got him out to warm him up,” Grier also stated. “He became more responsive the further we got him out.”

“I know that it was a miracle from God,” Toler added. “That’s the only thing that could have saved the boy out there in that mess.”

She said he’s still hospitalized in the Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern.

He has been listed as good condition after being treated for cuts.

“I’m just hoping there are no long term effects on him,” added Toler. “He’s a tough little fella.”


Casey’s aunt Breanna Hathaway in a Facebook post wrote that her nephew was “healthy” and “talking.”

“He said he hung out with a bear for two days,” she said in the post. “God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is a good God. Miracles do happen.”

Sheriff Hughes Explains Rescue

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes chats with Merrilee Moore this morning as 3-year-old Casey Hathaway rests at Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern.

Posted by WCTI NewsChannel 12 on Friday, January 25, 2019

A GoFundMe was set up by the toddler’s grandmother at “the public’s request” over the weekend and was titled “Casey and the Bear.”

“He didn’t say how he was able to survive and all that,” Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told WCTI. “He did say he had a friend in the woods that was a bear that was with him.”