A three-year-old boy survived two freezing winter nights alone in the North Carolina woods - and he says a bear helped him do it.
Casey Hathaway went missing from his grandmother's home in Ernul, Craven county, on Tuesday, January 22 (local time). The toddler's disappearance sparked an extensive search involving rescue helicopters, drones and hundreds of volunteers.
The freezing conditions were so harsh that the search was called off after two days, with volunteers told to stay away for their own safety.
On Thursday, rescuers responded to reports of a baby crying in the woods around grandmother Breanna Hathaway's house. Casey was found about 400m from the property, soaking wet and tangled up in briars but still wearing his coat.
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Search teams had to wade through cold waist-deep water to reach the boy, who was rushed to hospital and nursed back to health.
It's unknown exactly how Casey survived his ordeal, but he claims it was all thanks to a friendly bear.
In a Facebook post that has since been made private, Mrs Hathaway wrote that her grandson "said he hung out with a bear for two days".
"God sent him a friend to keep him safe. God is a good God. Miracles do happen."
Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told local station NewsChannel 12 that Casey "did say he had a friend in the woods that was a bear".
He didn't elaborate on whether he thought the bear was real or imaginary.