We’ve all heard about the successful rescue of a soccer team and their coach who had been trapped in a cave in Thailand for a week. There was another rescue this week in Montana which is just as miraculous. A five-month-old was found buried under a pile of sticks in a remote wooded area after police searched for him for six hours in the dark. CNN reports sheriff’s deputy Ross Jessup had almost given up hope when he heard a faint whimper.
“All night long, I was preparing myself mentally to find a dead baby. … I was angry, kind of, at the time,” Jessop told HLN’s Mike Galanos on Tuesday afternoon. “I was losing my faith … that the baby was even alive.”
On a whim, he said, Jessop and another officer walked uphill from where they had last seen some debris…
“And during the break in communications, we both heard the small whimpering of a child,” Jessop recalled.
The officers found the infant facedown under a pile of sticks and debris, clothed only in a wet and soiled onesie, a statement from the sheriff’s office said.
The Missoula County Sheriff’s Office reported that, against all odds, the baby was doing well. The photo above is of the rescued child:
Clothed in only a wet and soiled onesie, the baby was found at approximately 2:30 am, putting the infant in the woods unattended and in the cold (approximately 46 degrees) for a minimum of 9 hours. The baby was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition…
For all of us at the sheriffs office, this is what we call a miracle. For the officers who were present for this event, its especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours.
The story of how the officers wound up searching the woods is a strange one. A man later identified as Francis Crowley was seen acting strangely near a small resort area known as Lolo Hot Springs. Police were called around 8 pm but when the arrived Crowley was gone. Meanwhile, the responding deputies learned that Crowley had been watching an infant and the infant was now missing.
Authorities eventually found Crowley who appeared to be on drugs. They questioned him about the missing child but his answers didn’t make much sense. He told them the child might have been buried somewhere in the mountains. With nothing more than that to go on, police began searching the area. Because it was believed a life was at stake, “members of 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” were called in. They all searched in the dark, wooded area for nearly six hours before the child was discovered.
Crowley is now facing a felony criminal endangerment charge and other charges are possible. No information on the child’s mother or why Crowley was watching the child has been released.
Incidentally, this is apparently not the first time deputy Ross Jessup has made news. An officer with the same name was involved in a dramatic shootout in the same area of Montana in 2010 after a person he stopped for driving erratically pulled a gun on him. A jury later ruled unanimously that the shooting was justified. Here’s a local news report on the rescue of the baby: