A man who allegedly left a 5-month-old baby boy under sticks and debris in a mountainous region of Montana following a crash on Sunday said the baby was “too heavy” to carry, The Missoulian reports, citing court records.
The baby miraculously survived being in the wooded area for “at least 9 hours,” according to police. Over six hours after a search for the infant began, a deputy “heard the faint cry of a baby,” according to a police report. The deputy followed the sounds of the baby’s cries and discovered him alive, “face down, buried under a pile of sticks and debris,” as CrimeOnline previously reported.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office found the infant after responding to a call about a man reportedly “acting strange” July 7 at approximately 8 p.m. in Lolo Hot Springs.
While en route to the scene, authorities received information indicating a male suspect, identified as 32-year-old Francis Carlton Crowley, allegedly threatened people, saying he had a gun while suspiciously reaching into his pockets, according to police. During the course of the investigation, officials learned Crowley and the baby were involved in a crash earlier in the day.
Upon arrival, officers discovered that the suspect had already left. They also received information that the infant, who was in Crowley’s care, had not been seen for several hours.
As police were searching for Crowley, a 911 call indicated that Crowley reportedly made his way back to the Hot Springs area. When authorities returned to the location, they found the man and apprehended him, a police report states, adding that the suspect “appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers.”
The man allegedly later confessed to police that he was in fact using methamphetamine and bath salts, according to The Missoulian.
While interviewing Crowley, police say he “indicated the baby was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains.”
“Due to the urgency of this matter, members of the Missoula County Search and Rescue were paged out to assist officers from the United States Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Montana Highway Patrol, and Missoula County deputies” searched tirelessly for the infant, according to a Missoula County Sheriff’s Office statement.
The infant was saved at approximately 2:30 a.m. by responding officers, who said he was wearing only a wet and soiled onesie, while in 46-degree weather “for a minimum of 9 hours,” according to authorities.
Police did not reveal the identity of the baby, but According to FOX, Crowley is the boyfriend of the infant’s mother. Authorities confirmed the baby boy is now in “good condition.” He is in the custody of the Department of Public Health and Human Services after being treated for dehydration, lack of food, scratches, cuts and bruising.
“For all of us at the sheriff’s office, this is what we call a miracle,” the 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. 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.”
Crowley, of Portland, Oregon, was arrested in June by Missoula authorities on a fugitive warrant from Oregon. Oregon officials decided not to extradite him, Deputy Missoula County Attorney Jason Marks said.
Crowley is currently behind bars on charges of criminal endangerment and assault on a minor. He is scheduled to appear in Missoula court Tuesday.
[Feature Photo: Missoula County Sheriff’s Office]