A 5-month-old baby is reportedly safe after police found it buried alive, facedown under “a pile of sticks and debris” in the mountains near Lolo Hot Springs in Montana, on the morning of July 8.
According to a Facebook post by the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to the Hot Springs area at around 8 p.m. on Saturday, to respond to reports about Francis Carlton Crowley, 32. Witnesses said he was behaving strangely and threatening people by saying he had a gun, and reaching for his pocket. When police arrived on the scene, Crowley was gone, but they learned that the baby who had been left in his care had not been seen for several hours.
When Crowley returned to the area, police say he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and wasn’t making sense, but indicated to them that the missing baby might be buried somewhere in the mountains. A search party made up of members from the Sheriff’s department, Missoula County Search and Rescue, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and Montana Highway Patrol combed the mountains for six hours, with temperatures dropping down to 46 degrees.
Finally, at 2:30 a.m., one deputy heard crying and found the baby in a wet and soiled onesie. The baby was taken to a nearby hospital, and Crowley is being held on charges of criminal endangerment, with more charges likely to come.
“For all of us at the sheriffs office, this is what we call a miracle,” the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office wrote. “For the officers who were present for this event, its especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours.”
It is unclear what relation Crowley has to the baby. According to CNN, the 32-year-old is originally from Oregon, and is currently under “post-prison supervision for several counts of burglary and one count of criminal mischief.”