Talk about time-of-the-year coincidences.
The dramatic rescue of the 33 Chilean miners Wednesday invokes memories of another dramatic rescue, that of 18-month-old Jessica McClure. Let’s take a trip down memory lane.
October 14 2010 ironically is the 23rd anniversary of when “Baby Jessica” fell into an 18-inch-wide well casing near Midland. Her rescue riveted the nation for 58 hours until she was rescued on Oct. 16, 1987.
Though the miners may not have suffered physical injuries comparable to Jessica McClure’s, they will still feel the effects of their ordeal for many years to come. It is still unknown whether or not they will have any chronic health problems after being underground for 69 days.
Jessica McClure (born March 26, 1986) became a household name at the age of 18 months after falling into a well in Midland, Texas, on October 14, 1987
While visiting her sister’s home day-care center, Jessica’s mum, 18-year-old Reba ”Cissy” McClure left Jessica playing with other children in the backyard. Momentarily unattended to, the toddler fell 22 feet into an abandoned well.
Between that day and October 16, rescuers worked for 58 hours to free “Baby Jessica” from the eight-inch-wide well casing.
Her rescue riveted the nation and gained worldwide attention. This massive media saturation of the ordeal prompted then-President Ronald Reagan to state that “everybody in America became godfathers and godmothers of Jessica while this was going on.”
As hundreds of bone-weary rescuers and onlookers cheered in jubilation, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was pulled to safety on the night of 16th October 1987, 58 1/2 hours after she fell into the abandoned well. Amidst a huge eruption of cheers and jubilation, paramedic Robert O’Donnell carrying a weary-looking and dirt-covered but conscious Jessica, appeared.
She was carried by a paramedic to a waiting ambulance, where her parents waited. She was then rushed to Midland Memorial Hospital for examination.
Throughout Midland and nearby Odessa, motorists sounded their horns in celebration of the young girl’s rescue from 22 feet below ground.
Following her rescue on October 16, 1987, surgeons had to amputate part of McClure’s right foot due to loss of circulation while in the well. She has had 15 surgeries over the years, and has no first-hand memory of being trapped in the well.
She also still bears the scars of the accident, and in a 2007 interview she told the Today Show that she opted not to have doctors remove her scars. She said, “It shows who I am, and the fact that I am here and that I could have not been here.”
McClure graduated from Greenwood High School, near Midland, in May 2004.
On January 28, 2006, McClure married Daniel Morales at a Church of Christ in a small rural community outside of Midland. The couple met at a day-care center where his sister worked with McClure. The couple have a son named Simon.
On March 26, 2011, when Morales turns 25, she stands to receive a trust fund of donations from well-wishers, rumored to be in excess of $1,000,000.
McClure’s rescue was credited mostly to paramedic Robert O’Donnell and police officer William Andrew Glasscock Jr., both of whom received tremendous media attention and became heroes. The saddest thing is what happened to these two heroes. In 1995, after eight years of having suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the ordeal, O’Donnell succumbed to the disorder and committed suicide. In 2004, Glasscock was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of sexual exploitation of a child, sexual assault, and improper storage of explosives.
Jessica’s story spawned a book and a TV movie called Everybody’s Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure with Patty Duke and Beau Bridges.
On May 30, 2007, USA Today ranked McClure #22 on its list of “25 lives of indelible impact.”
Jessica McClure is not the only child to have fallen down a well; Kathy Fiscus and Alfredo Rampi also suffered the same fate, but unfortunately they did not survive.