Rescue of Jessica McClure
March 26, 1986
Midland, Texas, U.S.
|Other names||Jessica McClure Morales|
|Known for||Falling into a well at 18 months|
The incident occurred in Midland, Texas, where firemen and police developed a plan to drill a parallel shaft to the well where Jessica was lodged—and drill another horizontal cross-tunnel to rescue her. Enlisting the help of local oil drillers, officials hoped to free McClure quickly, before discovering the well was surrounded by rock. The rescuers' jackhammers were also inadequate, as they were designed for downward rather than horizontal drilling.
A roofing contractor, Ron Short, volunteered to go down the shaft. He had been born without collarbones and could collapse his shoulders to work in tight confines. The team considered his offer, but paramedic Robert O'Donnell was ultimately able to inch his way into the tunnel, wrestle Jessica free from her position pinned inside the well with one leg above her forehead—and hand her to a fellow paramedic, who carried her up to safety before giving her to another paramedic who carried her to a waiting ambulance.
CNN covered the rescue effort, with then-President Ronald Reagan saying "everybody in America became godmothers and godfathers of Jessica while this was going on." Throughout the incident, local media outlet KMID-TV received calls from news organizations and private individuals globally, seeking the latest information. In 1988, McClure and her parents appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee to talk about the incident.
ABC made a television movie of the story in 1989, Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure, starring Patty Duke and Beau Bridges and featuring many participants from the actual rescue as extras.
Following McClure's rescue on October 16, 1987, doctors feared they would have to amputate Jessica's foot due to damage from loss of blood flow sustained from her leg being elevated above her head for the 58 and a half hours she was stuck in the well. They decided to try hyperbaric therapy in an attempt to avoid full amputation. In the end, surgeons only had to amputate a toe due to gangrene caused by loss of circulation while she was in the well. Jessica carries a scar on her forehead where her head rubbed against the well casing and despite the incident and 15 subsequent related surgeries, retains no first-hand memory of the events. Her parents divorced in 1990.
Paramedic Robert O'Donnell (born August 27, 1957) died by suicide on April 27, 1995 at the age of 37 by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun due to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after the rescue.
In May 2004, McClure graduated from Greenwood High School, in a small community near Midland. On January 28, 2006, she married Daniel Morales at the Church of Christ in Notrees, Texas, about 40 mi (64 km) from Midland. They met at a day care center where she worked with his sister. They have two children, a boy born in 2007 and a girl born in 2009.
When McClure turned 25 on March 26, 2011, she received a trust fund, composed of donations from around the world, which she discussed using for her children's college and which she used to purchase her home, less than 2 mi (3.2 km) from the well into which she fell. However, she also indicated a great deal of the fund was lost in the 2008 stock market crash.
In popular culture
- The Far Side Gary Larson created a comic entitled "The life and times of baby Jessica".
- Malootty, the 1990 Indian Malayalam-language movie starring Jayaram, was based on the incident.
- The Simpsons referenced the incident with an episode about Bart Simpson falling and becoming stuck inside a well.
- In 2010, blues musician Charlie Musselwhite released an album titled The Well. In the title song, he credits McClure's ordeal for inspiring him to quit drinking.
- In 2010, her story was featured satirically in the Saturday Night Live sketch "What Up With That."
- In 2017, an episode of ABC's Modern Family, titled "Heavy Is the Head", Cam (Eric Stonestreet) has great difficulty getting an MRI scan. He later attributes his fear to being stuck in a well as a teenager on the same day as Baby Jessica.
- Floyd Collins, an early case of "man trapped in cave" that received high media attention in 1925
- 2010 Copiapó mining accident, cave-in and miner rescue at a mine in Atacama Region (Chile) where 33 miners were rescued
- Tham Luang cave rescue, where 12 children and a coach were rescued from a cave in Thailand in 2018
- Kathy Fiscus, a 3-year-old American girl who died after falling into a well in 1949
- Alfredo Rampi, a 6-year-old Italian boy who died after falling into a well in 1981
- Julen Roselló, a 2-year-old Spanish toddler who died after falling into a well in 2019
- Rayan Oram, a 5-year-old Moroccan boy who died after falling into a well in 2022
- Tikki Tikki Tembo, a children's book about a Chinese boy who fell into a well
- "30 years ago: Rescue of 'Baby Jessica' from the well". October 14, 2016.
- "Jessica McClure, an 18-month-old girl, is saved after 58 long hours trapped in a well in 1987". NY Daily News.
- Business Week. Bloomberg L.P. 1989.
- National Science Foundation (U.S.) (1987). Annual report for fiscal year ... The Foundation.
- Higgins, Darla (May 31, 2017). "Baby Jessica 30 Years Later: 'My Life Is a Miracle'". People.com. Retrieved October 15, 2017.
Television viewers watched as hundreds of paramedics, rescuers, drilling experts and contractors feverishly worked to save the baby's life. Meanwhile, they were reassured when they heard Jessica singing “Winnie the Pooh” from deep in the well. As long as she was singing, she was still alive.
- Kennedy, J. Michael (October 17, 1987). "Jessica Makes It to Safety – After 58 1/2 Hours". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Scott, Ronald W. (November 1988). "Cleidocranial Dysplasia: An Enigma Among Anomalies". The Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy. 10 (5): 184–88. doi:10.2519/jospt.1918.104.22.168. ISSN 0190-6011. PMID 18796963.
- "Home - News, Entertainment, World Events Video". NBCUniversal Archives. Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Staff. "1988 Winners and Finalists". The Pulitzer Prizes. Columbia University. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Koch, Wendy (May 29, 2007). "Lives of Indelible Impact". USA Today. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Herman, Ken (October 18, 1987). "DOCTORS OPERATE ON FOOT OF GIRL FREED FROM WELL". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved September 16, 2022.
- Blaney, Betsy (March 25, 2011). "Baby Jessica turns 25, gains access to trust fund". Xfinity News. Associated Press. Archived from the original on March 26, 2011. Retrieved March 25, 2011.
- Belkin, Lisa (July 23, 1995). "Death on the CNN Curve". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
- Celizic, Mike (November 6, 2007). "Baby Jessica 20 Years Later". MSNBC. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012. Retrieved November 24, 2010.
- Helling, Steve (October 16, 2017). "Baby Jessica On the 30 Year Anniversary of Her Rescue from a Well: Her Life as a Wife and Mom". People magazine.
- Hlavaty, Craig (March 10, 2017). "Jessica McClure Morales, now 30, says most of 1987 trust fund lost in 2008 market crash". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 20, 2020. Retrieved May 25, 2022.
- "Row over Kerala State Films Award - Times of India". The Times of India.
- MacFarlane, Kit (February 14, 2010). "The Simpsons, "Radio Bart" Part 2: "Ace in the Hole" and Jessica McClure". Pop Matters. Retrieved October 13, 2021.
- Kot, Greg (September 28, 2010). "How 'Baby Jessica' Saved Blues Great Charlie Musselwhite". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved June 4, 2013.
- "What Up With That?: Paul Rudd & Frank Rich - SNL". YouTube. Archived from the original on December 21, 2021.
- "Cam's Bitter Rivalry With Baby Jessica on 'Modern Family'". sports.yahoo.com. Retrieved May 8, 2021.
- Tawfiq Nasrallah, Khitam Al Amir (February 5, 2022). "Tragic end to rescue efforts as Moroccan boy Rayan evacuated from the well declared dead". Gulf News.
- "Jessica, from the Well" poem by Lucie Brock-Broido