Missing NC 3-year-old Casey Hathaway found alive, sheriff says

Gone for more than 24 hours as temperatures drop to near freezing, a missing 3-year-old is the "number one priority" of police in North Carolina, officials said Wednesday.

Casey had been playing outside the home with two children he is related to and he did not come back inside with them.

"We lost my ... grandson", said Casey's great-grandmother on the call, CNN affiliate WCTI reported.

Temperatures are expected to fall to near freezing Thursday in the area near where Casey disappeared, Hughes said, creating concern for authorities, who already are facing rugged, hard terrain. If you see Casey or have information to help us locate him, call the tip line at 252-636-6703 or the Craven County SO at 252-633-0498.

Casey Hathaway has been found safe, according to Craven County Sheriff's Office.

Casey's family searched for 45 minutes before calling 911 Tuesday, Hughes said, and since then 10 to 12 other counties and 20 to 25 other sheriffs have joined the search, as have the FBI, NCIS and State Highway Patrol.

Members of the U.S. Marines, the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, as well as many volunteers, joined the search as it intensified and expanded Wednesday.

Hathaway was found on Thursday night by a professional search and rescue team in Craven County, Shelley Lynch, a spokesperson for the FBI Charlotte field office, said in a news release. "Thank you all for helping us #FindCasey".

"The terrain was woods". Divers also are assessing nearby ponds, WTVD reported.

Hundreds of people volunteered to help find Casey on Wednesday but were sent home in the evening for their safety.

The boy was found in a wooded location provided in a tip from a citizen as the search widened in area, authorities said.

'Additional search assets will return in the morning.

"Residents living in the area are asked to check storage sheds, vehicles, and their property for the child", deputies posted on Facebook.

'The family have been extremely cooperative and we just want to bring their son home to them, ' Sheriff Hughes said. He has blond hair and brown eyes.

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