This post was updated on July 10, 2018 at 3:29 p.m.
Francis Crowley told police he abandoned the baby boy in the woods following a car crash because “the baby was very heavy,” per the Associated Press. Crowley admitted he and the baby had been in a crash earlier that day and upon arriving to the scene of the crash, they found a diaper bag, baby formula, and other personal items.
Crowley was disoriented, likely because of drug use, and told officers both that the baby had died and was buried, and that the baby was also lying on the side of the road. Officers used these spotty clues to locate the crash scene on a game trail. Crowley admitted to using both bath salts and methamphetamine.
The sheriff’s office said in a statement Monday,
“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.”
The original story was published on July 9, 2018 at 3:19 p.m. and continues below.
A terrifying weekend saga closes with a happy ending today as the search for the man who buried a 5-month-old infant came to an end. The infant, miraculously, survived over nine hours after being buried alive by the man under sticks and debris in the woods near Missoula, Montana. The small boy suffered only minor injuries and was thankfully found in good condition, though he was wearing ruined and wet clothes in chilly weather.
Authorities received a phone call on Saturday night around 8 p.m., stating that a man was threatening folks in the Lolo Hot Springs area of Lolo National Forest. Deputies responded to the call and found 32-year-old Francis Carlton Crowley acting strange on the scene. Police received multiple calls, per Newsweek and the Associated Press, regarding the man’s behavior. Some reported that he even told people in the area that he had a gun in his pocket. Crowley left without a word on the five-month-old infant. However, people nearby told police that he was talking incoherently about a baby buried in the woods.
Federal, state, and local officials gathered together at the request of the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office to assemble before the temperature dropped too much. The Missoula County Search and Rescue, the Montana Highway Patrol, and the United States Forest Service were a few of the first groups called to rescue the five-month-old baby. The rescue teams searched for about six hours when they finally heard a baby crying around 2:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
The small baby, buried alive in a soiled onesie, was face down under a pile of sticks and debris. The temperature when he was found was a chilly 46 degrees Fahrenheit. Officers estimate that the child was in the Montana mountains for about nine hours and was immediately taken to a nearby hospital once found.
Francis Crowley was arrested and is being held at the Missoula County Detention Facility on criminal endangerment charges, but he could face additional charges as law enforcement carries on the investigation. The unidentified infant is expected to remain anonymous until the proper precautions have been taken in locating his family as the relationship of the 5-month-old baby to Crowley was not clear to the Missoula County deputies.
For now, we are praying that nothing else happened to this sweet baby boy other than the minor scrapes obtained from forest debris. This newborn baby has a will to survive, thanks to the collaborative effort of all those involved in this Montana wilderness search and rescue mission.