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‘Baby Jessica’ Rescued from a Texas Well 25 Years Today [VIDEO]

ABC News

Today is the 25th anniversary of baby Jessica. Some of you may not remember the story of baby Jessica, but I remember it like it was yesterday. The entire nation held their breath for two days that October in 1987.

It was about 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14, that 18-month-old Jessica McClure, playing with four other toddlers at her Aunt’s daycare center in Midland, Texas, somehow wandered off and fell into an abandoned well shaft. Exactly how she did it may never be known.

Jessica's Mother

Neighbors and relatives say a flowerpot had been placed over the well’s eight-inch opening; Jessica’s mother, 18-year-old Cissy McClure, insists that the hole had been covered with a heavy rock. Cissy had stepped away for a moment when she heard the children screaming. Discovering what had happened, she says she ran in and called the police. They were there within three minutes.

It was then that the 58-hour long ordeal to rescue baby Jessica began. Rescuers started bringing in equipment and shouting down the well making sure Jessica was alive. Jessica responded with cries and whimpering.


Baby Jessica

The rescue had to be planned delicately as not to collapse the well onto Jessica. They brought in David Lilly, special investigator with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration as the rescue director. His strategy was to drill a series of holes in a square about 24 inches across and 18 inches down. The holes would be no more than two inches apart. Then take down a 45- pound jackhammer, also with a tungsten bit, and hold it there to knock out the rock. It was a slow process,  going about an inch an hour in extremely terribly hard rock.



Baby Jessica II

With dedicated workers, rescuers and layman, they finally pulled baby Jessica out of the well. She endured 15 surgeries in the years after the incident to repair injuries she suffered. Her small toe and part of her right foot had to be removed because gangrene had set in where her circulation had been cut off.  She has scars on her thighs from where skin was harvested for grafts. She also has a scar on her forehead, but decided to keep that scar to remind her of who she is.



Jessica did not find out about her story until she was five years old — more than three years after the rescue . She was watching an episode of “Rescue 911” about a little girl trapped in a well and was moved to tears by it. She asked her parents, about the girl and was told it was her.

I know that Jessica is grown woman now, but I can’t help but remember her as baby Jessica. Happy Anniversary Baby Jessica!

Baby Jessica’s Rescue October 16, 1987

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