Casey Hathaway was playing outside with two children, who are his relatives, on Tuesday, but when the two kids returned to a home in Ernul, North Carolina, belonging to Casey's great-grandmother, Casey did not.
He had been missing for about 45 minutes when his grandmother called 911, and emergency officials responded to the house within minutes.
The search effort stretched through Wednesday starting at 7.30am with around 400 to 500 volunteers until it was called off 9.30pm, according to WCTI. It was thick in places. If everybody could come and help look for him, it would help.
Hughes said his team was concerned about the "extreme cold" as temperatures dipped near freezing, but against all odds, they found him.
Search and rescue teams from across North Carolina had been working on rugged terrain and in cold temperatures for about 48 hours hoping to find Casey. "Some places it wasn't that thick, but we took our time and you see the next person, and you look and you look and you look".
'As it got darker, it was scary out there. What would happen if that was one of their children? WTVD reported that Hathaway and the other children had been playing in his grandmother's backyard. "I want to thank all of the volunteers that came out".
'Today, hundreds of professional searchers and volunteers walked through rough terrain around the home to try and locate Casey.
Casey's family was overjoyed he had been found safe and alive after two days on his own. "Additional search assets will return in the morning".
The sheriff's office has also asked people to check their property, cars and storage sheds for Casey.
They are also using helicopters in the search.
Volunteers spent the entire day combing through the heavily wooded area.
The boy was found in a wooded location provided in a tip from a citizen as the search widened in area, authorities said.
Casey was found about 50 yards into the woods - a little more than a quarter of a mile away from where he went missing, Hughes said, adding that he believed the boy had been wandering through the area.
Anyone with information about Casey's whereabouts is urged to contact the Craven County Sheriff's Office immediately at 252-636-6620.