Three-year-old Casey Hathaway was missing for more than two days before he was found tangled in vegetation last week. Family members say he was protected by a bear.
The community at New Haven Church rushed the gates of heaven in prayer on Tuesday after discovering that Hathaway went missing after playing outside of a relative's home in Craven County, North Carolina, with two other children last Tuesday.
According to WTVD, the boy’s grandmother and others looked for him for 45 minutes before they officially reported him missing.
“We went through the woods – through the thicket and the briars,” volunteer Donna Harris told WTVD. “We did it for three-and-a-half, four hours and it was bad. It was really bad out there. As it got darker, it was scary out there. I just can’t imagine a 3-year-old being out there.”
Shelley Lynch, a spokesperson for the FBI Charlotte field office, announced Hathaway’s rescue on Thursday night. EMS Captain Shane Grier and another rescuer found him in the woods as he was calling out for his mother.
"Somebody looked after him," Grier said. "That was God at work."
Breanna Hathaway, who identified herself as the boy's aunt, testified of his rescue on Facebook.
“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,” she wrote. “God is good God. Miracles do happen.”
She later shared that Hathaway's sister credited “Jesus” for finding her brother.
Hathaway was treated at Carolina East Medical Center and was reportedly in good health despite not being dressed properly for the cold and rainy weather, Lynch stated.
New Haven Church held a welcome home celebration on Friday night and they celebrated the miracle finding with songs of praise.