Baby survives 9 hours buried in western Montana woods

Francis Carlton Crowley. MUST CREDIT Missoula County Sheriff's Office

The man indicated to authorities that the baby was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains.

The Missoula County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call at around 8pm on Saturday reporting a man who was acting strangely in the Lolo Hot Springs area.

As law enforcement was still en route to the hot springs, more people at the hot springs called dispatchers, telling them that the man was threatening people, saying he had a gun and reaching into his pockets.

Sheriff's deputies arrived at the scene to find he had fled, but established that Crowley had been caring for a young child who had been missing for several hours.

The infant was in good condition after being found face down around 2:30 a.m. Sunday in the Lolo Hot Springs area, Bassett said.

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When they eventually arrested him, 'he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers, ' a sheriff's report noted.

The child was transported to a local hospital and is in good condition, according to the sheriff's office.

"Upon arrival, deputies discovered the suspect, 32-year-old Francis Carlton Crowley, had left the area and that a 5-month-old who had been left in his care had not been seen for several hours", the sheriff's office said in the post.

"This was a huge miracle and we are thankful to everyone that came out to search and the people who made the 911 calls", Brenda Bassett, a sheriff's department spokeswoman in Missoula County, Montana, told ABC News.

Alongside a search and rescue team and officers with the United States Forest Service, deputies with the Missoula County Sheriff's Office began searching on foot Saturday evening. He found the 5-month-old alive but face down and buried under a pile of sticks. The infant was only wearing a "wet and solid" onesie as he endured 46-degree temperatures for at least nine hours, according to police.

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'For the officers who were present for this event, its especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours'. There was no information on whether Crowley had an attorney.

The nature of Crowley's relationship to the baby was not immediately clear.

Francis Crowley being held on $US50,000 bail on a charge of criminal endangerment.

Crowley is reportedly being held at the Missoula County Detention Facility on charges of criminal endangerment and police said that "additional charges will follow". They think the baby was in the cold for about 9 hours.

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