A 5-month-old infant boy was found partially buried on a mountain after sheriff's deputies heard the faint cry of a baby after an hours-long search, authorities said.
"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.
The sheriff's office became aware that a baby might be buried somewhere in a mountainous area after they received a call Saturday night about a man acting strangely in the Lolo Hot Springs area, according to a Facebook post by the sheriff's department.
"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.
Deputies apprehended Crowley after he was found to have returned to the area.
"When trying to question Crowley, he appeared to be under the influence of drugs and was not making sense to officers," the sheriff's statement said. "Statements made by Crowley indicated the baby was possibly buried somewhere in the mountains."
A search was launched that included members of the county search-and-rescue team, the U.S. Forest Service, the federal Bureau of Land Management, the Montana Highway Patrol and the Missoula County sheriff's office.
For more than six hours, teams of people scoured the woods on foot. Then an officer heard the faint cry of a baby, the sheriff’s post said.
“He followed the sound and found the baby alive, face down, buried under a pile of sticks and debris. 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 statement on Facebook said.
“When we brought him out, we took him right to the hospital, he had some scratches and bruises but otherwise in good health," sheriff's office spokeswoman Bassett told ABC News. "He is expected to make a full recovery.”
No information has been released about the child's family except that Bassett said Crowley is not the biological father.
Crowley is being held at the county detention facility on charges of criminal endangerment with other charges to follow, the sheriff's statement on Facebook said.
Crowley is to appear in court Tuesday. It is unclear if at this point if he has a lawyer.