‘We are very fortunate,’ first responder says of missing 3-year-old boy found safe

January 26, 2019

Casey Hathaway, will spend one more day in the hospital after he was found safe Thursday night following a two day search. As he recovers, an entire community is celebrating his return.

In a crowd of people praying and worshiping Friday night was Casey’s aunt, Breanna Hathaway. She described herself as shy, but felt everyone who helped search for the 3-year-old boy should know how much they’re appreciated.

“A while ago, me and my mom were at the hospital and we were looking at the news on social media and Casey saw his picture and he said, ‘Aunt Bre, that’s me’ and I said ‘Casey, all these people were looking for you and helped trying to find you.” And he said ‘yay,’” she said.

Many in the room at New Haven Church on Friday night had prayed, made meals and joined in the search for Casey.

“His family appreciates that more than anything, because at a time like this, when it seems there is no good, y’all have been our good,” Hathaway said.

For days, hundreds of searchers covered miles of wooded and rough terrain on the ground and in the air.

In the end – it was a woman walking a dog who heard a small voice crying out.

Noah Denis is her son.

“She took the dogs out (and) we were walking the dogs and she heard the baby crying,” Dennis said. “She heard Casey cry.”

Authorities said that Casey was found by professional search and rescue crews on Aurora Road near Toler Road in Craven County.

Shane Grier, who located Casey, said authorities were responding to a tip and heard the boy calling for his mother when they arrived at the scene. Grier found the boy about 50 yards into the woods, tangled in some briars.

“I think for the conditions, he fared very well,” Grier said. “We are very fortunate for where we are.

“He was cold but he was verbal in command to us. The more we warmed him up, the more active he became,” Grier said.

Casey’s parents could hardly find the words to describe their relief.

“He is good, he is good,” his mother said. “He is up and talking and he has already asked to watch Netflix, so he is good.”

Sheriff Chip Hughes said he believes Casey had moved around before ending up in the location where he was found.

“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.”

Casey’s parents took the opportunity late Thursday night to hug the first responders who located their son and thank those that helped during the search.

“We’re very thankful that you took the time out to come search for Casey and prayed for him,” Casey’s mother said.

Mary Boyd lives near where Casey was found – as word the child was alive – so did a wave of emotion.

“You just want to hug him as if it is your kid,” Boyd said.

Update hourly