A 5-month-old baby was found buried alive in the mountains of Montana over the weekend, and the sheriff's deputy who found him says he had just given up hope when he heard a small cry.
"All night long I was preparing myself to find a dead baby," Deputy Ross Jessop told HLN's Mike Galanos.
The Missoula County Sheriff's Office said in a press release that they were called to the area Sunday night following reports of a man acting aggressive and threatening nearby campers saying he had a gun.
Deputies later learned the man, identified as Francis Carlton Crowley, was caring for his girlfriend's son at the time, but witnesses hadn't seen the infant for several hours.
Officers searched for more than six hours for the 5-month-old after Crowley told them the baby was "somewhere in the mountains."
"I was angry, kind of, at the time," Jessop said. "I was losing my faith that the baby was even alive."
Jessop said it was on a whim that he and another officer decided to walk uphill from where they had found the empty car seat and other baby items.
"During a break in communications, we both heard the small whimpering of a child," Jessop said.
The police statement said they found the infant was lying face down under a heap of sticks and rubble, only wearing a "wet and solid" onesie in 46-degree temperatures.
"I was so overcome with emotion that my cop instincts and my cop training went away," Jessop said. "I just wrapped that baby up just like a father would any child in need."
He continued, "I have three kids myself and I think without question that hearing that little baby the other night brought to me more joy than even my own children coming into this world."
The press release stated the baby boy is reportedly in good condition following Sunday's ordeal and was placed in the custody of the Montana Child and Family Services Division.
"For all of us at the sheriff's office, this is what we call a miracle. For the officers who were present for this event, it's especially hard knowing what this small baby endured in the last 24 hours," the statement read.
Police arrested Crowley and charged him with criminal endangerment and assault on a minor. He appeared in court on Tuesday, and reportedly doubled over and fell to the floor as the judge and prosecutor read allegations.
Reports say Crowley begged the judge not to take the baby away and said he loves him. It is unclear if he is the child's father.
Crowley did not enter a plea during the court hearing. His bail was set at $200,000.
USA Today reports Crowley has previously been arrested for burglary, assault, drug and criminal mischief charges.