Casey Hathaway, a 3-year-old North Carolina boy who had been missing since Tuesday, was found near his home Thursday evening and appears to be in good health, according to authorities. The child was found near his grandmother’s home where he had last been seen, and just as another winter storm began battering the state.
Rescue crews assisted the FBI and other professional searchers in eastern North Carolina’s Craven County to find the boy, who’s now getting evaluated at a local hospital with his family at his side, according to the Associated Press.
Casey Hathaway was playing with other children at his grandmother’s house in Ernul, North Carolina and didn’t go inside the same time as the other kids, according to Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes.
According to initial reports, the family looked for him approximately 45 minutes before a relative called 911. Sheriff’s deputies quickly responded, and a widespread search ensued.
The search intensified with a winter storm anticipated Thursday that would bring strong winds and rains to the area. Hathaway was not wearing clothes equipped for cold, wet weather.
“Our number one priority is to find Casey,” Sheriff Hughes said Wednesday. “We are treating this as a missing child investigation and search and we are doing it diligently, utilizing every possible resource at our disposal.”
The sheriff said the expected cold weather expedited Marines from Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune to be brought in for the search. The sheriff added that Marines had training in rough terrain locales in extreme temperatures, giving the search an added boost.
Among the services deployed in the search were the FBI, NCIS, Craven County Emergency Management, local helicopters, drones and K-9 units, according to CNN.
“Today, hundreds of professional searchers and volunteers walked through rough terrain around the home to try and locate Casey,” the Craven County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday. “Volunteers were sent home for the night due to safety concerns. Professionally trained searchers will continue to work overnight. Additional search assets will return in the morning.”
An AMBER Alert had been issued to help boost the search.
The sheriff said neighbors and people in the area were interviewed by officers and the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation was on the scene to assist with the search.