Baby Jessica Made Our Hearts Stop in 1987 When She Was Stuck in a Well for 58 Hours… How is She Doing Today?
In 1987, a fateful trip plunged young Jessica McClure into the abyss of a terrifying well. After being trapped for 58 hours, baby Jessica captured the hearts and minds of everyone who witnessed her ordeal.
“Baby Jessica” has since grown into a woman. Though the echoes of that harrowing experience will always linger, she has emerged victorious, a true survivor. This is her story.
October 14, 1987, Changed Her Life Forever
October 14, 1987, was a day many who caught this story will find hard to forget. Adorable Jessica McClure was a mere 18 months old when visiting her aunt in Midland, Texas, with her mother.
It was supposed to be a fun albeit uneventful day as Jessica’s family and relatives got together for a simple celebration. But little did Jessica’s mother, aunt, and extended family know that what was supposed to be a friendly visit would turn into a nightmare.
The 22-Foot Deep Well
Here’s the moment that would change everything: A single phone call—her mother’s momentary distraction—was all it took for the innocent toddler, Jessica, to slip and fall. Her tiny body dropped down into the dark abyss of a backyard well.
The well should have been considered a death trap. It was 22 feet deep and a mere 8 inches in diameter. Baby Jessica was completely trapped within this small space. Her leg was wedged above her head. As she came to, she let out a piercing cry.
It was a mother’s worst nightmare, and it played out in an instant. Jessica’s mother realized her child was missing, and she knew something terrible had happened. It didn’t take her long to realize that her baby was trapped inside the well.
Her screams echoed through the neighborhood. Soon the backyard was swarming with paramedics, firefighters, and police officers ready to help the child. Even media vultures were ready to put the story and her face on the 6 o’clock news.
Time Passed With Little Progress
It was a race against time. The rescuers were determined to save the child inside the well. Though they arrived at the scene with a solid game plan, they soon realized this would not be an easy rescue.
The rescue operation was becoming increasingly difficult. They were met with one obstacle after another. The well was deep and narrow, and Baby Jessica was lodged in a tight spot. The rescue team was in a state of disarray as they frantically searched for a solution.
The First Plan
Plan A was a bold strategy. First, the authorities decided to drill a parallel shaft to the well where Jessica was stuck. After which, they were to dig a horizontal cross-tunnel to rescue her.
But as they began their work, they were met with a harsh reality. They realized the well was surrounded by rock that their tools were not strong enough to penetrate. Fifty-eight hours later, a brave man was willing to risk his own life to save little Jessica.
Injecting Oxygen Inside The Well
The rescuers were quickly running out of options. Though they possessed powerful jackhammers, they could only drill vertically through the ground—they had to find a way to dig vertically.
They were at a loss. Their original plan A was a failure, and time was running out. Jessica’s cries for help were echoing to the surface. A state of panic permeated the air. While they considered their next step, they filtered oxygen down into the well to keep the child alive.
The Second Plan
Fortunately, a mining engineer arrived, and everyone received a second wind of hope. A new plan was proposed as a quick and last-ditch effort to save the child. The engineer suggested the process of waterjet cutting to the rescue team.
However, it was a fairly new technology at the time, and no one knew if it would ever work. Though they were taking a gamble, it was their only chance. The fate of the young child hung in the balance.
Waterjet Technology Can Cut Horizontally
A waterjet cutter harnesses the power of pressurized water. It can cut through the toughest of materials. They thought that if they couldn’t get a jackhammer to cut through the rocks horizontally, this could be the answer they were looking for.
However, it would have been dangerous. It was a relatively new technology that remained untested. Anything could have gone wrong, but they were out of choices—it was their only chance. But the question remained, will they reach baby Jessica in time?
Thankful For Winnie The Pooh
The new plan was perilous—the waterjet cutter was powerful but unpredictable. But they had no other choice. The world watched in horror as the team activated the waterjet cutter. Its aim was for the water stream to cut inch by inch through the rock.
As the team anxiously monitored the cutter’s progress, they had a glimmer of hope. Jessica was singing, and her voice was echoing through the well. She was singing “Winnie the Pooh” songs. It was a sign that the child was alive.
Robert O’Donnell Saved The Day
Although her singing gave the rescuers the strength to continue, 58 hours had passed since Jessica fell into the well. People helplessly watched the nail-biting rescue in person and on the news. Finally, a man named Robert O’Donnell crawled through the opening to pull out the trapped toddler.
He emerged—she was alive! The world breathed a sigh of relief. Scott Shaw took a picture of Robert O’Donnell holding Baby Jessica post-rescue. This incredible image, taken seconds after O’Donnell surfaced, won a Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography.
The President Got Involved
Even former United States president Ronald Reagan couldn’t help but get involved in the dramatic situation. People watched CNN when the head of the country came onscreen to describe how the entire nation suddenly became godmothers and godfathers of baby Jessica.
However, Jessica’s ordeal was far from over. Though she had been successfully rescued, she would have to face the aftermath of trauma on her long road to recovery. Jessica would have to undergo several surgeries to mend the injuries she sustained in the well.
Becoming A Media Darling
Naturally, the media descended upon the McClure family. People wanted to know more about Baby Jessica’s miraculous rescue. As the world watched in awe, the McClures were thrust into the national spotlight. The attention hardly died down after she was saved.
The family appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. The crowning achievement of their story’s power was a made-for-TV movie entitled Everybody’s Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure. It starred the iconic Patty Duke and the talented Beau Bridges.
Politicians And Donations Poured In
After the McClure family emerged from their harrowing experience, they were met with a dazzling array of media opportunities. They were invited not only to appear on national television shows but also to meet then-President George H.W. Bush.
But the blessings did not stop there. From every corner of the globe, donations began to pour in. An outpouring of love and support was given to their precious Jessica. The family watched in amazement as the total amount they received reached an astounding one million dollars.
Baby Jessica’s Surgeries
The highs experienced by the McClure family were unfortunately accompanied by lows. They were faced with a harsh reality—the damage inflicted upon their precious child had taken its toll.
Jessica needed multiple surgeries as she lost her toe due to the gangrene that had crept in as her circulation had been cut off. She also had to undergo extensive reconstruction of her entire foot. In total, she underwent 15 surgeries over the earliest years of her life.
Jessica Never Knew What She Went Through
Jessica was too young to remember the incident. Though the physical scars of her experience would stay with her, the emotional toll wouldn’t. It wasn’t until she saw a re-run of her accident on an episode of Rescue 9-1-1 that she began to understand what had happened.
When she asked her mother who the little girl was, she was shocked to learn it was her. Slowly but surely, Jessica built a life outside the spotlight. She was also able to buy a house and move on.
Jessica Is No Longer A Baby
As the years passed, Baby Jessica eventually grew into a young woman. She also fell in love with a man who knew nothing of her past. When she met Daniel Morales in 2005 at the daycare where she worked, it was love at first sight.
They became engaged on January 28, 2006, and they said their vows at the Church of Christ surrounded by their family and friends. Daniel had no idea who Baby Jessica was. The adult Jessica finally felt free from her past.
A Million-Dollar Inheritance
Daniel and Jessica built a life together. Eventually, they created a family of their own. They became the proud parents of a son and a daughter. However, in 2011, the world was again reminded of the miracle of Baby Jessica.
When she was handed access to the trust fund of donations given in her name when she was a toddler, she was shocked that the amount was an astounding sum of $1 million. The money helped her buy their dream home.
Living Near The Well
Baby Jessica grew into a woman of strength and resilience. She had faced unimaginable hardships and emerged victorious. Unsurprisingly, when she and her husband decided to purchase a home, they chose one not even three miles away from the infamous well where her life had changed forever.
The bold move reflected her fearlessness and determination to claim her past and make it her own. Of course, she wanted to visit the well, but she made sure it was at an important time in her life.
The 30th Anniversary
Jessica now lives an ordinary life with her husband and children, surrounded by their love and support. Even so, she is constantly reminded of the well and the site of her accident, considering that it is just a stone’s throw away.
It was only on the 30th anniversary of her fall and rescue that she felt the pull to return. She wanted to confront her past and pay her respects to everyone who saved her and the people who supported her since that tragic day.
In an interview with People, Jessica opened up about her return to the site of her accident. It was an emotional moment, and she admitted that seeing the well once more was hard. However, it was not upsetting.
Remarkably, she had faced her worst nightmare and emerged victorious. The well served as a constant reminder of her past. However, it also transformed her into a symbol of her resilience. Though it could have taken her life, she was able to fight it and win.