It was a moment Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Ross Jessop won't soon forget, hours after combing the woods searching for a missing 5-month-old baby boy. After mentally preparing for the worst, he recalled the second he found the missing baby under a pile of debris.
"I abandoned any police training or any chance of saving evidence there - I didn’t care,” he said to 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.”
Jessop and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Nick Scholz were the first to discover the nearly-buried infant at 2:30 a.m., approximately nine hours after he was left in the woods following a collision on an abandoned road. Francis Crowley, 32, has been accused of numerous charges related to the incident, including assault on a minor and criminal endangerment. Disoriented and unable to tell officers critical details that could lead to the recovery of the infant, Crowley was, however, able to describe the approximate location of the crash. Luckily, it was a location that Jessop recognized, and he immediately ordered a search which resulted in the successful location of both the wreck and the child.
Although upon discovery the boy was cold, wet and hungry, he was in otherwise good condition. Officers immediately wrapped him in a coat and carried him to an ambulance, which was waiting to take him to the hospital. He was immediately treated for dehydration, lack of food, small scrapes and bruises, and was placed in the custody of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
According to AP News, Jessop - a father of three himself - recounted this fortuitous ending to a harrowing night as the happiest of his career, and that the rescue was a very needed lift that came at just the right time. The Missoula County Sheriff's Office echoed these sentiments in a lengthy Facebook post following the July 7th incident, stating that they consider the outcome of these events "a miracle", and expressed their gratitude for everyone - both first responders and those who called in 911 - who assisted in the search.
"I was just stunned. [This] just gives me an extra boost. Cops actually do matter sometimes . . . so it's pretty encouraging for me," Jessop said.
Unfortunately, there are several accounts in recent years of young babies being abandoned by parents who are unable to care for them. The good news is that there are many stories of children who are found in time and survive, thanks to the help from passersby as well as first responders. Recently in Ontario, Canada, a four-month-old infant that was found abandoned in the streets of Thunder Bay - a large, northwestern city bordering Lake Superior. According to reports, the child was found by the resident of a nearby home and cared for until help arrived.