A man said he left a 5-month-old baby in the woods alone after crashing his car because the baby was "heavy," court records show. Thankfully, the baby was found alive by law enforcement officers after an extensive search. He had been buried facedown under a pile of debris.
Francis Carlton Crowley, 32, made his first court appearance yesterday as he faced charges including assault on a minor and criminal endangerment. Law enforcement officers say he crashed his car along an abandoned road and then left the baby boy near the crash site, according to the Associated Press.
During the court appearance, Crowley broke down in tears exclaiming, "I love that f*cking kid," as he asked the judge to not take the boy away. His attorney, public defender Ted Fellman, had to mute his client's microphone after he continued to shout obscenities, reported KPAX.
Crowley, the baby's mother and the baby had been staying in a camp near the Lolo National Forest, according to the Associated Press. It's not clear what relationship Crowley has to the baby.
Crowley has not entered a plea, but he is expected to have his next court date on July 25. His bail has been set at $200,000. According to a statement from the Missoula County Sheriff's Office, the baby has now been referred to Child and Family Services.
Law enforcement officers were initially called Saturday night about a man who was acting strange in the Lolo Hot Springs area. Shortly after they arrived on the scene, however, they discovered no one had seen the baby he had been in charge of for several hours.
Law enforcement officers were soon able to locate Crowley, but he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was giving conflicting stories about the baby's whereabouts. He told deputies the baby was either lying on the side of the road or had died and was buried in the woods, according to the Associated Press.
On Tuesday, Missoula County Sheriff's Deputy Ross Jessop and US Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Nick Scholz recounted how they later found the baby facedown in a pile of debris after hearing a faint cry in the woods.
“I abandoned any police training or any chance of saving evidence there — I didn’t care,” Jessop told reporters. “I scooped up the baby, made sure he was breathing. He had a sparkle in his eye. [I] warmed him up, gave him a couple of kisses and just held him.”
Later on the way to the hospital, the baby reportedly coughed up small sticks, and he was treated for dehydration, scratches and a lack of food.
Law enforcement officials said finding the baby alive, despite the conditions and cold temperature, was a miracle.
"Calls come in and you see people at their absolute worst day after day. But over the weekend, out of so much darkness came a little light. A baby was found... alive," they wrote in a statement.
[Photo: Missoula County Jail]