Of­fi­cers de­scribe faint whim­per, find­ing aban­doned in­fant

Yuma Sun - - NATION / WORLD -

MIS­SOULA, Mont. — A faint whim­per in the dark­ness was all it took.

Mis­soula County Sher­iff’s Deputy Ross Jes­sop and U.S. For­est Ser­vice Law En­force­ment Of­fi­cer Nick Scholz rushed to­ward the sound af­ter hours spent search­ing the Mon­tana woods for a miss­ing in­fant.

Jes­sop was about to take an­other step when he heard a stick crack un­der­foot. He looked down to find a cold, wet, soiled 5-month-old boy face-down un­der a pile of de­bris.

“I aban­doned any po­lice train­ing or any chance of sav­ing ev­i­dence there — I didn’t care,” Jes­sop, a fa­ther of three, told re­porters on Tues­day. “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.”

The baby, who had been aban­doned for at least nine hours be­fore Jes­sop and Scholz found him at 2:30 a.m. Sun­day, was cold, hun­gry and had scrapes and bruises, but was oth­er­wise in good con­di­tion. They wrapped him in a coat and car­ried the boy out of the woods to safety.

“It was the hap­pi­est 1520 min­utes of my ca­reer,” Scholz said of the walk out. “I was just stunned. Walk­ing in to this sit­u­a­tion, you were men­tally pre­pared for the worst.”

The baby drank a whole bot­tle of Pe­di­a­lyte in un­der a minute, then drank two more, said Mis­soula County Sher­iff’s Capt. Bill Burt. The baby’s tiny, dirty hand grasped Burt’s fin­ger with sur­pris­ing strength, then he fell soundly asleep as hos­pi­tal of­fi­cials hooked him up to an IV, Burt said.

The res­cue that Sher­iff T.J. McDer­mott called a mir­a­cle was re­counted mo­ments be­fore Fran­cis Crow­ley, 32, ap­peared in court to hear charges against him that in­cluded as­sault on a mi­nor and crim­i­nal en­dan­ger­ment. Crow­ley told in­ves­ti­ga­tors he left the boy in the woods af­ter crash­ing his car be­cause the baby was heavy, ac­cord­ing to court records. He ap­peared in Mis­soula County Jus­tice Court from jail by video, and he broke down re­peat­edly.

Pub­lic de­fender Ted Fell­man said Crow­ley had no money and was liv­ing near Lolo Hot Springs. Sher­iff’s of­fi­cials said Crow­ley, the child’s mother and the boy were liv­ing in a camp near the hot springs.

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

Crow­ley did not en­ter a plea dur­ing the hear­ing. Judge Marie An­der­sen set bail at $200,000 and sched­uled his next court date for July 25.

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