The number one cryptozoology story of 2019 is the tale of a boy, a bear, and a Bigfoot in the woods.
It matters not if the news was completely factual, partially a fantasy, or even a bit of a romantic fiction to explain a child’s experience, the outcome was it was the big news that left unanswered questions in the Bigfoot community.
What occurred and how did it unfold?
On Tuesday, January 22, 2019, Casey Hathaway, 3, was reported missing when he disappeared while playing near his grandmother’s Ernul, North Carolina, home. Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes said Casey was one of three kids being watched by his grandmother, but he stayed out when two came indoors. The group looked for Casey for about 45 minutes then called police.
Finally, on January 24, 2019, after massive search parties, with more than 100 volunteers and a helicopter with heat-seeking technology trying to find him, authorities located the boy in good health.
After the 3-year-old boy spent two days lost in the woods of eastern North Carolina he told his family he “hung out with a bear” for companionship while hundreds of people searched frantically in cold and rainy weather to find him.
The Craven County Sheriff Office said after he was found that it would not dispute little Casey Hathaway’s story.
Casey’s aunt, Breanna Hathaway, shared the bear anecdote on Facebook, adding that he “is healthy, smiling, and talking” after being found.
“He said he hung out with a bear for two days,” she posted. “God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is (a) good God. Miracles do happen.”
After found, Casey spent the first night being examined by doctors at Carolina East Medical Center, and hospital staff said the next day that he was “in good condition.” His mother, Brittany Hathaway, remained by his side at the hospital.
He was released from the hospital January 26, 2019.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes addressed the boy’s bear story on January 28, 2019, during an interview with TV station WCTI.
“I don’t know if that meant he saw a bear. I don’t know if that meant a bear embraced him or what it meant,” Hughes told the station. “I thought it was a very cute story and if that’s what helped that child survive through this, you know what, I’m to going to embrace that story that came from a three-year-old, to his mom.”
The number of news reports on Casey’s story was remarkable. He was trending for days.
Casey was found stuck in a tangle of vines and thorns, about a half a mile from where he went missing, Hughes said in a press conference streamed by WRAL.
Authorities say they were aided by a 911 call from someone who reported hearing “Casey crying for his mother deep in the woods,” reported TV station WSOC. A team rushed to the area and followed the sound of the boy’s voice, Chocowinity EMS Captain Shane Grier told WCTI.
The 911 caller, according to WRAL, was a woman who was walking her dogs when she heard the boy “crying out.”
The New Bern Sun Journal says the 25-pound boy “was wet, cold, and scratched up…but speaking” when found by rescuers who waded through “waist-deep” water.
Hundreds of volunteers joined law enforcement agencies to search “treacherous” terrain that is flooded and dotted with sinkholes, the sheriff’s office said on Facebook. “Even the trained searchers are having trouble navigating safely,” said the post.
Sheriff Hughes was adamant that it was a missing child case since Casey disappeared, and reiterated that at the news conference he held after he was found. The sheriff said “there were no signs of abduction,” as he explained why an Amber Alert was never issued.
Although Casey was found close to where he initially went missing, that did not stop the sheriff’s office, and the multiple other law enforcement agencies in addition to first responders and hundreds of volunteers from covering lots of ground — and water — in their search.
It was all in an effort to find Casey, who was reported missing around 1:45 p.m. in Ernul, according to the Facebook page Never Forget Me. Ernul is located close to the North Carolina coast, not far from New Bern.
Casey was playing with a group of kids, two of which returned to his great grandmother’s home, various media outlets reported.
WSOC quoted authorities as saying the boy “wandered into thick woods behind the home.”
After an unsuccessful 45-minute search in the “rural, wooded area,” Casey’s family called 911, according to Never Forget Me.
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes, who led hundreds of volunteers in a search for the boy, addressed one of the more sinister conspiracies this week, telling TV station WCTI that there is no proof Casey had been held against his will.
“Everybody’s got a theory about what took place, and how there is no way this child could have survived,” Hughes told WCTI.
“The notion that he was sitting in a house or a vehicle for two days and put out there a couple of hours before we found him is absolutely not true. His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frost bite.”
When 3-year-old Casey Hathaway told his mom a bear befriended him while he was lost in the woods last week, it gave rise to radical conspiracy theories, strange social media debates and even a few jokes by talk show hosts like Stephen Colbert.
Had the North Carolina boy really survived two days outdoors in temperatures as low as 17 degrees, with no food or water?
And was there really a bear…or is that just a child’s active imagination at work?
CNN reported that Casey is to “undergo a forensic psychological exam,” when authorities believe he has sufficiently recovered.
Maj. David McFadyen of the Craven County Sheriff’s Office told CNN there is nothing to indicate Casey was actually with a bear, a story the boy told his mother in the hospital.
“He has not been interviewed yet about what happened, (but) he’s a 3-year-old little boy,” McFadyen told CNN. “Until we do the forensic exam we won’t have a definite idea.”
It was the bear story that got the attention of Late Show host Stephen Colbert, who joked on air that “a snack-sized human arrives in this bear’s woods and it doesn’t even eat him.”
The British news outlet The Guardian consulted researchers about the possibility the story might be true, calling it a “seemingly remarkable tale of Jungle Book-style inter-species friendship.”
It concluded the story “was most likely the product of Casey’s imagination,” though a bear researcher at the University of Montana suggested the boy himself might believe it.
Was Casey with a Bigfoot?
A modern imagining of a Bigfoot-boy interaction.
The most unexpected of the theories is still being hotly debated on multiple Facebook pages: That the bear might have been a Bigfoot or Sasquatch, the legendary half-man, half-beast said to roam the nation’s backwoods.
Bears are hibernating now, say the sites, so one wouldn’t have befriended a lost boy.
“Sasquatch researchers suggest that the boy may have been in the care of an animal that he called a bear because…he didn’t know what a Sasquatch (or even an ape) was if, it was one,” posted the International Cryptozoology Museum on Facebook.
Onomatology (study of names):
Hathaway: English (mainly central southern England and South Wales): topographic name for someone who lived by a path across a heath*, from Middle English hathe ‘heath’ + weye ‘way’. from an (apparently rare) Old English female personal name, Heaðuwig, composed of the elements heaðu ‘strife’, ‘contention’ + wig ‘war’.
*In English the meaning of heath is an untended land where flowering shrubs grow.
Toponymy (study of place names):
Since 2012, the significance and siting of the name “Aurora” in various event has begun to be understood. I’ve written about this extensively. See here, and not the links at the end.
In examining the Hathaway case more closely, we discover that Aurora Road is, literally, right around the corner.
ABC NewsChannel 12 got an exclusive with Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes who sat down with them to set the record straight. “Everybody’s got a theory about what took place, and how there is no way this child could have survived,” said Sheriff Hughes.
“The notion that he was sitting in a house or a vehicle for two days and put out there a couple of hours before we found him is absolutely not true. His core temperature was very low, his fingers and all had a bit of frost bite, “said Sheriff Hughes. “A lot of it, according to what medical was telling us, was conducive for him being out in the elements for an extended period of time.”
Sheriff Hughes said Casey did not remain in one spot that whole time, instead the toddler moved around, and had at least a hour head start on them. “Once we got the K-9s there, so many people before we got there walked through that area and disturbed the ground,” said Sheriff Hughes.
Sheriff Hughes addressed the story about the bear in the woods, and said that is a story that Casey told his mom at the emergency room. She told the sheriff that Casey said he was with his friend the bear. “I don’t know if that meant he saw a bear. I don’t know if that meant a bear embraced him or what it meant,” said Sheriff Hughes. “I thought it was a very cute story and if that’s what helped that child survive through this, you know what, I’m to going to embrace that story that came from a three-year-old, to his mom, to us.”
But it was a big Bigfoot story of 2019.
Art by Eric Fargiorgio.
Nate Brislin summarized this story on the International Cryptozoology Museum site:
A North Carolina boy was found late Thursday [January 24, 2019] stuck in a tangle of vines and thorns about a half a mile from where he went missing two days earlier [January 22, 2019]. The 25-pound boy “was wet, cold, and scratched up… but speaking,” when found by rescuers who waded through “waist-deep” water. Authorities don’t know how far the boy strayed during the two days, but “believe he was moving around most of the time he was lost.”
The boy said to his mother that he “hung out with a bear for two days.”
Sasquatch researchers suggest that the boy may have been in the care of an animal that he called a bear because it may have, to some degree, resembled a big, hairy creature and he didn’t know what a sasquatch (or even an ape) was if it was one.
Brislin’s Museum site summary was picked up by The Charlotte Observer, who quoted an extract from the above as:
That’s just how the year 2019 began.
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