ERNUL, N.C. — A 3-year-old boy went missing from his grandmother’s backyard in Craven County, North Carolina on Tuesday, Jan. 22, according to WCTI.
Casey Lynn Hathaway was last seen at about 1 p.m. playing with two other kids in the backyard.
Casey’s grandmother and others spent 45 minutes searching for the boy before calling 911, WCTI reports.
More than 100 volunteers joined the search Tuesday night.
“As it got darker, it was scary out there,” volunteer Donna Harris told WTVD. “I just can’t imagine a 3-year-old being out there.”
The State Bureau of Investigation is urging residents in the Ernul area to check their storage sheds, vehicles and property for the missing boy.
“Our number one priority is to find Casey,” Craven County Sheriff Chip Hughes told media outlets Wednesday.
Hughes said that sinkholes and water-filled ditches in the area are a possible danger, adding that he’s worried Casey isn’t wearing enough warm clothing. Temperatures were expected to sink into the mid-30s overnight.
“The area that we’ve been searching in is extremely rugged,” Hughes said. “The terrain has been difficult at times.”
The FBI, U.S. Marines and state investigators joined in the search.
“We are treating this like a missing child investigation and search,” said Hughes, who added that the possibility of an abduction has not been ruled out.
Hughes said the family has been cooperating with the investigation.