Deputy and Forest Service Officer Relive Miracle Baby Rescue
We don’t know his name, but there’s one very fortunate five month-old boy who now has a room full of godfathers, all in uniform.
Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Ross Jessup and U.S. Forest Service Officer Nick Scholz were the two searchers who rescued that five month-old baby boy who had spent over nine hours buried under a pile of brush and sticks, but who survived the ordeal and brought tears to the eyes of dozens of personnel from the sheriff’s office, Search and Rescue, The Montana Highway Patrol and U.S. Forest Service.
Jessup and Scholz related the story of how they found the child that had allegedly been abandoned by 32 year-old Francis Crowley after he crashed his vehicle on a logging road about a mile from Lolo Hot Springs Resort.
In pitch dark, with only flashlights to guide them, they followed a trail of baby items scattered on the ground near the abandoned vehicle and heard faint sounds.
“What I heard was the sound of an exhausted, tired baby who didn’t have the lung capacity to cry anymore,” said Jessup. Scholz said, “We just started running toward that baby voice, and then I saw you pick up the baby.”
“It was so well concealed, I was literally taking a step and I was about to walk on top of the baby’s head and I heard the sticks crack, when I looked down and saw a baby laying face down," Jessup continued. "I uncovered him and just picked him up. He was cold, he was wet, and he couldn’t even cry. One of the Search and Rescue folks lent me his down coat and a beanie hat, we covered the baby up immediately and walked him out.”
Jessup gave all the credit to God for keeping the baby alive until he could be found.
“It was a miracle,” he said simply. “People go through lows in their careers especially being a cop and I had prepared myself mentally to find a dead baby, if at all. Seeing and hearing that baby, I was so overcome with joy. I have three kids, and when I heard that baby murmur I was so happy, even more happy than hearing my daughters cry for the very first time, and I will never, ever doubt the Lord.”
Missoula County Sheriff T.J. McDermott heaped praise on his staff and all the agencies that assisted in the search.
“We’re proud of our team,” said McDermott. “We’re proud of the work that’s being done by our deputies and our law enforcement partners and our Search and Rescue members who come out time and time again to help us through these situations. It’s a good thing to know there’s a baby that’s alive because of the relentless, tireless dedication and efforts of these two officers and the others, the volunteers who were up Highway 12 near Lolo Hot Springs that night, so I’m super proud of them, and it’s good to have this moment to share with the public and the press for a job well done.”
Crowley appeared in Missoula Justice Court on Tuesday afternoon and was placed on $200,000 bond, charged with felony assault on a minor and criminal endangerment.