Rescuers in Montana found a baby, alive and well, after being abandoned for nine hours in the cold woods.
As The Washington Post reports, the ordeal began on Saturday evening. Beginning at about 8:00 p.m., calls started pouring into 911 centers about a man in the Lolo Springs area acting strangely. The man, later identified as 32-year-old Francis Carlton Crowley, was allegedly threatening people, putting his hands into his pockets, and telling people he had a gun.
When police showed up, the suspect wasn’t there, according to KPAX-TV (Missoula), but callers informed police that a five-month-old baby who had been left in his care hadn’t been seen in several hours. A while later, Crowley turned up again at the hot springs, and police were able to take him into custody.
According to a press release from the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, Crowley appeared to be under the influence of some kind of intoxicant.
“When trying to question Crowley, he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers.”
However, they were able to get out of him that the baby that had been left in his care was missing. Crowley allegedly told authorities that he had buried the baby “somewhere in the mountains.”
That began a multi-agency search-and-rescue effort, helped by Missoula County Search and Rescue, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Montana Highway Patrol, and Missoula County deputies.
Eventually, one of the searchers faintly heard the sound of a crying baby.
“He followed the sound and found the baby alive, face down, buried under a pile of sticks and debris.”
Though cold, wet, and wearing only a soiled onesie, the baby was otherwise OK, despite having been outside in 46-degree weather for at least nine hours. He was taken to a nearby hospital and found to be in good condition.
“For all of us at the sheriffs office, this is what we call a miracle. For the officers who were present for this event, [it’s] especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours.”
Crowley, for his part, was taken downtown and held on $50,000 bail. He’s been charged with criminal endangerment, although local media indicate that more charges are coming. It is not clear, as of this writing, if he has a lawyer.
There remain unanswered questions about this case, such as who left the baby in Crowley’s care and if they have given any statement to the police.