A five-month-old baby buried for more than nine hours under debris in Montana woodland suffered only minor injuries.
Authorities said the male infant suffered scrapes and bruises but is in otherwise good condition, despite wearing wet and soiled clothes in cold weather.
Missoula County Sheriff’s deputies were called about a man threatening people in the Lolo Hot Springs area of the Lolo National Forest. Officers apprehended the man, who indicated that a baby was buried somewhere in the woods.
The sheriff’s office put together a search crew of federal, state and local officials that combed the forest outside the hot springs for six hours before one officer heard a baby’s cry in the early hours of Sunday.
He found the baby face down under a pile of sticks and debris, dressed only in a wet and soiled onesie.
“He suffered some minor scrapes and bruising but overall is in good health,” sheriff’s spokeswoman Brenda Bassett said.
The baby was taken to a hospital. Custody of the child has been referred to the state Division of Child and Family Services.
Francis Crowley, 32, is being held on $50,000 bail on a charge of criminal endangerment. Additional charges will follow, the sheriff’s office said.
“For all of us at the sheriff’s office, this is what we call a miracle,” a sheriff’s office statement said. “For the officers who were present for this event, it’s especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours.”
Crowley is from Portland, Oregon, and was previously arrested in June in Missoula on a fugitive warrant from Oregon, the Missoulian newspaper reported. Crowley was released when Oregon officials decided not to extradite him, deputy Missoula County attorney Jason Marks said.
The nature of Crowley’s relationship to the baby is not immediately clear.
- Press Association