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'Miracle' baby found safe after buried in Montana woods for 9 hours

A sheriff's deputy found the baby following a massive search.
/ Source: TODAY

Authorities who found the abandoned infant described his survival as a miracle.

A 5-month-old baby, buried face down beneath piles of sticks and debris, was discovered in the woods of western Montana by authorities who spent more than six hours searching for him.

Doctors say the infant is in good condition despite enduring overnight temperatures in the 40s, according to the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.

Wearing only a wet and soiled onesie, the baby became the subject of a massive search after authorities received a call around 8 p.m. Saturday about a man “acting strange” in an area inside the Lolo National Forest. The man soon started threatening people, telling people he had a gun in his pocket, but he had fled the scene by the time sheriff deputies arrived.

At the same time, authorities learned that a 5-month-old baby left in the man’s care hadn’t been seen for several hours. When they later apprehended the man, he indicated that “the baby was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains.”

A search and rescue team quickly scattered officials throughout the area before a deputy heard a faint baby’s cry around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Authorities estimate the baby had been left unattended for a minimum of nine hours.

“For all of us at the sheriffs office, this is what we call a miracle,” the department said in a statement it posted on Facebook.

The man who was supposed to be taking care of the baby, Francis Carlton Crowley, 32, was arrested for criminal endangerment. Additional charges were expected. It wasn’t clear what Crowley’s relationship is to the infant.

“For the officers who were present for this event, its especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours,” the sheriff’s office said.