Massive search underway for missing 3-year-old NC boy

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(WNCT) – Authorities are searching for a North Carolina toddler that was reported missing Tuesday afternoon.

The search for the three-year-old boy is ongoing in the Ernul area of Craven County.

Sheriff Chip Hughes said a grandmother was watching a group of kids, two of which came inside while the three-year-old stayed outside.

They looked for Casey Hathaway for about 45 minutes before calling law enforcement.

The boy was last seen wearing a blue-colored coat and dark pants.

“It’s a stressful time for the family and everybody involved,” Hughes said. “But I can tell you we are certainly doing our due diligence, spending a lot of time with them and just sorting through all the different stories. And as calls come in, and we’ve had a number of them about things they’ve heard in the woods, none of them have panned out yet. But every lead we are following and going straight to it.”

A helicopter with heat-seeking technology was being used to look for the boy and more than 100 volunteers were helping law enforcement agencies. 

Drones were being used as well and authorities said they are not turning down anyone who wants to assist in the search.

Hughes said they are especially concerned due to the numerous sinkholes in the area and because the boy was not dressed for the cold. 

“We are not leaving here until we bring some closure to this family,” said Hughes. “And, hopefully, it will be a positive, end on a positive note.”

The Craven County Sheriff’s Office is handling the investigation with assistance from State Highway Patrol, the New Bern Police Department, Pamlico County Sheriff’s Office K-9s, NC Wildlife Resources, the FBI and the SBI.

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