After spending at least nine hours buried alive underneath sticks and debris in the Montana wilderness, a 5-month-old baby boy was miraculously found and rescued by police, KTVB-TV reported.
Last Saturday, police from the Missoula County Sheriff’s office received reports of a man who was “acting strange” near Lolo Hot Springs. They quickly headed to the scene, only to receive more reports along the way that the man was claiming to have a gun and was threatening to shoot people.
The suspect, Francis Carlton Crowley, 32, had already fled the area by the time the officers arrived.
Deputies also learned a more concerning fact upon arriving to the scene: A 5-month-old baby who had been left under Crowley’s supervision was nowhere to be found.
The sheriff’s office found Crowley after a local resident called 9-11, reporting that the suspect was back in Lolo Hot Springs. Deputies took Crowley into custody, but the status of the 5-month-old child was still unknown.
“When trying to question Crowley, he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers,” the sheriff’s office wrote in a Facebook post.
Even though Crowley could barely communicate, the officers could make out that he was talking about the baby being “possibly buried.”
Deputies immediately launched a search campaign, calling in Missoula County Search and Rescue, the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and Montana Highway Patrol to help aid their nearly impossible search for the infant.
“After more than 6 hours of searching on foot, a deputy heard the faint cry of a baby,” police said in a statement. “He followed the sound and found the baby alive, face down, buried under a pile of sticks and debris.”
Deputies gathered that the little baby had been in the woods for a minimum nine hours, and was only wearing a small, wet, and soiled onesie in the 46-degree weather.
They immediately rushed the baby to a nearby Montana hospital where, miraculously, he was found to be in good condition.
“For all of us at the sheriff’s office, this is what we call a miracle,” police said.
The deputies immediately arrested Crowley, took him into custody, and booked him into the Missoula County Detention Facility on a felony charge of criminal endangerment. Additional charges are currently pending.
Crowley will make his first court appearance today, the department reported.
“For the officers who were present for this event, it’s especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours,” the sheriff’s office noted on Facebook. “Sheriff McDermott would like to thank those who assisted in the search and those who called 911, helping first responders bring this baby to safety.”