Little Casey Hathaway can now check "hung out with a bear" off his bucket list. At least, that's according to the 3-year-old himself, who says that's what he did while he was missing in the woods of North Carolina for two days, the Charlotte Observer reports. "God sent him a friend to keep him safe," his aunt posted on Facebook Thursday, noting the preschooler was "healthy, smiling, and talking" after his ordeal. Casey was found Thursday in the woods of Ernul, caught up in briars, after wandering away from his grandmother's home Tuesday. He was located less than a half-mile from where he'd first gone missing. Authorities were able to locate Casey after a woman walking her dog heard Casey crying out and called 911, per WRAL.
Casey's bear story is raising some eyebrows—one Facebook commenter notes "anyone who truly believes that a bear cared for him and fed him knows nothing about bears"—but his aunt reposted one observer's comments on the matter: "It may not have been a real live bear but an image or a dream sent by God to keep that baby moving and to keep him from giving up." Casey spent Friday in the hospital getting checked out, "eating Cheetos, nuggets, and watching Paw Patrol," his aunt wrote on Facebook. She adds that, due to request, the family will set up a PO box for him so well-wishers can send him notes and gifts. "Both him and his big sister have [endured] so much over the last three days so we thank you for wanting to be so kind to them," she wrote Friday. Per WBTW, Casey was deemed in good condition by the hospital and had been set to be released either later Friday or Saturday. (Read more uplifting news stories.)