About Alumni

Class Notes

 'We were assuming the worst'

It was around midnight one evening last July when Nick Scholz ’08 received the call from Search and Rescue about a 5-month-old infant lost in the woods near Lolo Hot Springs.

Scholz, who graduated from UM with a degree in recreation management and has worked in law enforcement for the U.S. Forest Service for six years, has helped with many SAR cases.

Nicolas ScholzBut this time he thought, “Oh no, this is not good.” As he drove to Lolo Hot Springs with Missoula County sheriff's deputy Ross Jessop, he knew the unlikely odds of finding a baby in such an extensive forest landscape.

After piecing together clues from the extremely impaired man who had crashed his car and abandoned the infant, Scholz and Jessop followed a two-track road behind Lolo Hot Springs. The car was not there.

Further into the forest, they saw tire tracks on the side of the mountain and then a small driven-over tree. They followed a game trail 80 yards to an opening and ran to the dome light of the car. The baby’s car seat was there. But the baby wasn’t.

Children’s trivia cards lay scattered on the ground near the car, and a trail of items extended deeper into the woods. When the officers arrived at an empty baby carrier, diaper bag and towel, they told the SAR crew who had arrived to stand back.

“In our minds, we were assuming the worst,” Scholz says.

As they walked upslope along a beaten trail, they heard a whimper minutes later and raced toward it.

“I just remember Ross moving a couple sticks out of the way and picking up this little baby boy from the ground,” Scholz says. “It was pretty surreal. The kid wasn’t fussy, wasn’t crying, just like ‘Oh, hi,’ looking at us like, ‘Oh hey, how’s it going?’”

The baby received treatment and survived.

Scholz says even after working in a profession where he is trained to play out worst-case scenarios in his mind, he experienced a roller coaster of emotions that night.

“This is not what I was preparing myself for, but this is incredible,” he says.

Scholz says he is surprised he and Jessop received national attention for doing their duty – just like they do every day.

“Still, it’s a very uplifting story and very much a win for all the first responders in this community who deal with and see tragedy day after day,” he says. “This little baby’s life was saved.”

Keep us posted! Send your news to the University of Montana Alumni Association, Brantly Hall, Missoula, MT 59812. Go to www.grizalum.com and click on “Submit a Class Note,” email alumni@umontana.edu, or call 1-877-UM-ALUMS (877-862-5867). Material in this issue reached our office by Aug. 3, 2018.