'A miracle': Abandoned baby found alive after 9 hours in woods, deputies say

MISSOULA, Mont. (WNCN) - - Rescuers found an abandoned baby face-down under debris and sticks on a Montana mountain over the weekend, officials say.


A 32-year-old man, who was supposed to be taking care of the child, told deputies only that the 5-month-old was "buried somewhere in the mountains," the Missoula County Sheriff's Office said.

Now, deputies are calling the rescue of the baby, who was abandoned for at least nine hours, "a miracle."

The incident began around 8 p.m. Saturday when deputies were called to the Lolo Hot Springs area about a man who "was acting strange," deputies said in a news release.

"Callers indicated the male suspect was ... threatening people saying he had a gun and was reaching in his pockets," officials said.

By the time deputies arrived, the suspect, Francis Carlton Crowley, 32, had fled the area.

Deputies also learned that a baby left in Crowley's care had not been seen "for several hours."

Later, Crowley returned to the Hot Springs area and he was captured, according to officials.

"When trying to question Crowley, he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers," a news release said.

The only information deputies were able to get from Crowley was that "the baby was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains," officials said.

Several agencies began a search and after more than six hours of searching on foot "a deputy heard the faint cry of a baby," deputies said.

The baby was found face-down and was only wearing a "wet and soiled onesie."

The baby had been out in the woods in 46-degree weather for at least nine hours.

"For all of us at the sheriff's 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," deputies said.

The baby was taken to a nearby hospital and is in good condition.

Crowley is being held on a $50,000 bond on a criminal endangerment charge at the Missoula County Detention Facility.

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