If a kid gets lost in the forest with a bear to keep him company but no one else witnesses it… did the bear exist at all?
While this play on the old philosophical tree-falling-in-the-forest question might seem silly, it’s at the forefront of the minds of both the parents of young Casey Hathaway as well as those who searched for him during his recent three-day absence in the wilderness of North Carolina.
Going missing in the great outdoors is nothing new, it’s been happening since the beginning of time and more often than not during our modern era if the unfortunate soul’s body is found, evidence suggests a perfectly reasonable explanation as to the cause. Sometimes it’s a mountain biker that’s veered off of the trail and fallen down into a secluded ravine, or a cross country skier who has fallen upside down into the void existing in the snow under the branches of an evergreen. While these horrific examples are disquieting, they at least make sense.
What makes zero sense is how Casey Hathaway, a three-year-old boy without sufficient all-weather gear spent three nights in the wilderness alone and did not succumb to exposure – nights where the temperature dropped to as low as twenty degrees Fahrenheit. Or was he alone after all?
Per Casey’s immediate account of the events upon rescue he was actually befriended and looked after by someone, someone who in this case would have to be the least expected… a bear.
This at first seems like the delusions or hallucinations of a child’s mind as it endures the highest stress levels it has ever known and one may at first theorize that this must be some sort of defense mechanism that gets set off once a kid is in a situation of extended absolute terror.
While that all may be possible to explain Casey’s account, what it does not explain is how Casey physically survived this event with rain and temperatures so unforgiving that at times searchers were themselves turned away due to the extreme weather conditions.
What propels this incident further into the unexplained is that it is not the first of its kind, in fact it sounds eerily familiar to several accounts noted in the “Missing 411 CanAm” project run by investigator David Paulides covering disappearances of people from remote areas of the US and Canada.
Paulides – a former police detective – has been working on this effort for years now and has compiled a library of information on an increasingly disturbing phenomenon occurring in our nation and around the world today and supposedly throughout history – the disappearances of people from remote forested areas, usually abutting to large tracts of wilderness.
Several of the accounts Paulides has accumulated over the years bear a strong resemblance to Casey’s story. Whilst the vast majority of these unfortunate children are actually never found (or scant remains were later found), the few who have survived have described some friendly animal or creature as having assisted them through their ordeal, sometimes a wolf-life animal, sometimes a bear, but always something non-human and furry. One account even had the child claiming the bear had fed him berries, berries that doctors later confirmed were in the child’s stomach.
Of course the quickest explanation is that the kid ate the berries on his own and that those wild berries themselves perhaps containing some weak chemical or hallucinogen helped spur on the imagination. Nothing can be definitively proved here except that these children somehow survived when the others unfortunately did not.
If we think hard enough and back far enough here, people going missing in this specific area of North Carolina itself isn’t even a new phenomenon by any means, and once we start looking at things from a different angle, disturbing they become indeed – and very quickly.
This area of North Carolina is just north of the Croatan National Forest, which contains four wilderness areas and is named after the Croatan Indians, an Algonquian Native American group who’d called these lands home since time immemorial.
That by itself seems cause for no immediate concern save for those of us who remember the Lost Colony of Roanoke. This was the English colony that after three years without contact, in 1590 upon the return of reinforcements with supplies….was found with no one and nothing except for the word of “CROATOAN” carved into a tree trunk. Nothing was ever found of the settlers of that colony and to this day it’s completely unknown as to what happened to them or why they would’ve deserted their camp leaving only this cryptic word referencing the local Indians.
Some say this means the Indians themselves must have removed the colonists from their fort. Others insist the Croatan Indians only assisted these settlers. One thing is for certain, it all remains a mystery, with the Croatan tribe as a common denominator.
This doesn’t only suggest open hostilities toward the Colony of Roanoke however, for it is the Native Americans themselves who have many stories of their own of sacred places where strange things are known to happen, or places one must not go for fear of never returning. In fact, perhaps a cross-referencing is needed between the modern disappearances of people and the locations of Native American accounts of supernatural phenomenon.
Perhaps someday we will get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding the disappearances of people and children from remote wilderness areas, or the unknowns underlying the history of the Croatan Indians and the Lost Colony of Roanoke in this region of what is now North Carolina. In the meantime however, we can rest assured that at least young Casey Hathaway’s name was not added to the list of those of the Missing 411 who were never seen again. Instead, he will now grow up to be an adult who can ask these questions along with us and perhaps even later be a key to our understanding of whatever it was that happened to him all those years ago in his youth.
Welcome back Casey.