A 5-month-old baby was found alive after being buried under a pile of sticks in the Montana woods for at least nine hours, according to authorities, who called the survival a “miracle.”
The baby endured temperatures in the 40s for at least nine hours and was found face down and clothed in only a wet and soiled onesie, the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.
A search and rescue team found the baby around 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning after combing through the woods for more than six hours, authorities said. A deputy found the child after hearing a faint cry and following.
Authorities had received a 911 call Saturday night around 8 p.m. describing a male who was “acting strange” in the area of the Lolo Hot Springs in Missoula County, according to the sheriff’s office.
When the deputies were en route to the scene, emergency dispatchers received more calls stating that the man was threatening people and saying he had a gun, authorities said. The deputies arrived to find that the alleged suspect, 32-year-old Francis Carlton Crowley, had left the area and that the child in his custody had not been seen for several hours.
Deputies later aprehended Crowley at the Hot Springs area, and they say he made statements indicating that the baby was buried somewhere in the mountains, according to the sheriff’s office. Crowley appeared to be under the influence of drugs, authorities said.
Crowley has been charged with felony criminal endangerment and is being held on $50,000 bond, jail records show. It is unclear if he has retained an attorney.
Several agencies, including the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and Montana Highway Patrol, assisted Missoula County search and rescue crews to help find the baby.
The child was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition, according to the sheriff’s office.
“For all of us at the sheriff’s office, this is what we call a miracle,” sheriff’s office said in a statement. “For the officers who were present for this event, it’s especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours.”