Baby Jessica Fell Down A Well In 1987, And Now She's A Teacher

Back in October 1987, Jessica McClure’s life changed forever. For the one-year-old inadvertently fell into an abandoned well, plunging 20 feet underground and becoming trapped. Subsequently dubbed “Baby Jessica”, she was stuck in a narrow shaft for days on end without food. But despite everything she went through, it’s incredible to see how she is now – more than 30 years later.

Now, at the time of the incident, Baby Jessica was playing in her aunt’s back garden, with her mom keeping watch. Then, the latter had to leave her daughter momentarily to answer the telephone inside the house. And it was during this that the little girl fell down the tight hole in the ground.

As it turned out, Baby Jessica had fallen around 22 feet into the well before getting stuck. In fact, the hole was eight inches wide, not big enough for an adult to lose more than a leg in. So a plan was put in place by the authorities to rescue her, with the TV news following their every step. Due to that coverage, people across America became transfixed on the story for the next few days.

In the end, Baby Jessica was eventually saved following a meticulous operation, much to the delight of an entire nation. What’s more, the resulting images from the rescue are still incredibly powerful, even after all this time. As for the adult Jessica herself, she has reflected on her life in the 30 years since.

Nowadays, television plays a significant role in many people’s lives, offering up a large choice of content. Whether it’s the latest reality TV show, or a new prestige drama series, there’s something for everyone, apparently. But away from the entertainment channels, news stations have continued to thrive alongside them, too.

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For you see, it’s sometimes easy to forget that news channels haven’t always offered 24-hour coverage. But today, most major outlets have a rolling cycle in place, keeping viewers informed of the latest headlines around the clock. In fact, in the United States, CNN was a trailblazer in that regard back in the 1980s.

That’s right, at that time CNN was the only news channel covering stories over a 24-hour period in America. Thanks to that, viewers could stay up to date with the latest news, such as the 1986 Challenger tragedy. But the following year, the station sprang into action again when a little girl fell down a well.

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So our story begins in March 1986 when Lewis and Reba McClure welcomed their baby daughter into the world, naming her Jessica. After the youngster’s birth, the trio returned to their home in Midland, Texas, which was known for its oil back then. Unfortunately for the family, though, the “Texas oil bust” left them in a tricky financial position.

Yet despite those difficulties, the McClures carried on as best they could, with Baby Jessica enjoying a fairly normal life. However, that all changed on October 14, 1987. For on that particular day, the toddler arguably became the most famous child in the entire country following a heart-in-mouth accident. So let’s find out more.

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Well, earlier that day Baby Jessica was taken to her aunt’s house, which also doubled up as a daycare center. With her mom there as well, the youngster was playing outside with a number of other kids, in the back garden. But no one could’ve predicted what was to happen next.

As previously mentioned, Reba left the group briefly to grab the ringing telephone inside the home. But then she returned in haste when the children started shouting for help. Looking around, and hearing the screams, she realized her little girl was no longer with them. And before long, the parent understood that the youngster had tumbled down the well in the backyard.

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Interestingly, prior to the incident, Reba claimed that a large stone was sitting on top of the well to protect the kids. So with that in mind, no one really knows what happened shortly before the incident, even now. Regardless of that particular mystery, though, her mother acted quickly to raise the alarm, as we’ll now find out.

Speaking to People magazine in November 1987, Reba said, “[I was] scared, panicked. I didn’t know what to do. I just ran in and called the police. They were there within three minutes, but it felt like a lifetime.” Once the emergency services arrived, they began to assess the severity of the situation.

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In fact, a cop named Bobbie Jo Hall was the first on the scene, as he had quickly reached the property. From there, the officer recalled what transpired next. Hall revealed, “I arrived at the same time as the first paramedics. The mother met us at the front door of the house.”

As he continued to explain, “[Reba] was very upset, but she was able to direct us to where the child was.” “She yelled, ‘She’s here in back. She fell down right here.’ Then she said, ‘I can’t let my baby die! I’ve got to get her out!’ I went over and looked down the hole, but I couldn’t see anything.”

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Thankfully for Baby Jessica, Hall eventually pinpointed her after she replied to one of his calls. But there was still a big issue at that stage. Indeed, even though the authorities stayed in contact with Jessica, they couldn’t see her down the well. Worryingly, this suggested that she was some way from the surface.

Astonishingly, it transpired that Baby Jessica had plummeted around 22 feet down the well, before getting jammed inside the shaft. Given the logistics, the emergency services tried to plot the best course of action to get her out. And after those discussions, Hall touched upon their plans. Sadly, it wasn’t going to be straight forward.

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“The first thing we tried was a backhoe [mechanical excavator] the city brought over,” Hall recalled to People. “It dug down two or three feet and then hit rock. We knew we didn’t have the time to dig through rock with a backhoe, so they called for this big rat-hole rig. That’s something like an oil rig, only smaller. It’s used to put in telephone poles.”

With everything in place, the authorities looked to dig a hole of around 30 feet alongside the well. Once that was complete, they intended to create a tunnel of sorts that would bridge the gap, allowing them to reach Baby Jessica. Unsurprisingly, this was an incredibly delicate process that took up a lot of time.

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Meanwhile, people across America were glued to their television screens watching it all unfold on CNN. Back at the scene, those above ground tried to stay in contact with Baby Jessica while the hole was being drilled. Indeed, Andy Glasscock was one of them, with the local detective keeping his ears, literally, to the ground.

Yes, Glasscock told People, “After listening to [Baby Jessica] for so long, I could tell her moods. At one point she was singing. At another point, when a jackhammer started up, she didn’t say any words but used kind of a huffy little voice. You could tell it was an angry voice.”

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As the detective continued to explain, “I would say 80 percent of the time she was either crying or making some kind of noise we could hear,” Glasscock added. “When we weren’t calling words of encouragement, we’d tell her to sing for us. I’ll never forget her singing ‘Winnie the Pooh.’ We’d say, ‘How does a kitten go [sound]?’ And she’d respond to us.”

However, after nearly 60 hours of hard work, a breakthrough was finally made. With American viewers holding their breath at home, Baby Jessica returned to the surface via the drilled hole. And she was covered in grime, sporting a large cut on her forehead, ahead of a trip to the hospital.

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Unbelievably, due to everything that happened over those three days, Baby Jessica went on to have 15 operations in total. Crucially, her right leg had been stretched above her head inside the shaft throughout the ordeal. As a result of that, her foot had become gangrenous, and she was in danger of losing it.

But in the end, Baby Jessica’s foot was saved by the hospital staff, but she did lose her little toe. Alongside that, the Midland resident also had a scar on her head from the cut and developed rheumatoid arthritis. Despite those problems, though, she was eventually given a clean bill of health.

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Now, Jessica’s story had captured the hearts of the American public, with countless donations being made to her family. In fact, it’s believed that CNN’s coverage of the event played a major role in the boom of 24-hour news stations. As for the money, the McClures received around $1.2 million.

So that money was subsequently placed into a trust for Baby Jessica, which she could access from her 25th birthday. Unfortunately for her, the funds were severely hit by the financial crisis of 2008, meaning she lost a giant portion of the cash. Astonishingly, when all was said and done, she had just $300,000 left.

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But let’s take stock of Jessica today. For she has gone on to live a fairly normal life, using the donated money to get herself a house. In addition to that, she’s also married to a man named Danny Morales, and the couple have two kids together. And in terms of work, the mom plies her trade as a teacher’s assistant.

What’s more, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the dramatic rescue, Jessica looked back on her life during an interview in 2017. Indeed, she took part in a video for People TV, the publication’s streaming channel. And what followed proved to be fascinating, as the now long-haired, glasses-wearing Christian opened up about the public’s still ongoing reaction.

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As the now adult Jessica McClure Morales goes on to explain, “The term ‘Baby Jessica,’ it is still an everyday thing. “I have people – that’s how they associate me. I actually told a lady the other day at work that I was the little girl that fell in the well, and she was like, ‘Oh my gosh! You’re Baby Jessica.’ And I was like, ‘Yes ma’am’.”

From here, Jessica touches upon the accident itself, making an unsurprising confession along the way. Indeed, as you’d expect for a one-year-old, she had absolutely no memory of the 58 hours she spent inside the well. And it wasn’t until a few years later when the youngster finally discovered what she’d been through in her aunt’s backyard.

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As Jessica goes on to explain to People TV, “The first time that I found out I was Baby Jessica, I was four, maybe five years old. I used to watch a show called Rescue 911. I remember thinking, ‘Oh that’s awful, how sad, that must be so horrible for that child.’ And I remember being told that that was me, and breaking down and crying in disbelief.”

However, the mom-of-two revealed that her own wedding very nearly didn’t happen. “When my husband and I first started dating, he did not know who I was at all,” she says in the segment on PeopleTV. “We would say [it was] love at first sight. About a month into our relationship, we were already engaged and still, he has no clue I am.”

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Jessica continues, “[But then] he goes to his sister one day and tells her, ‘I think I’m gonna dump her. I’m falling in love with her, I want to be with her, but every time we go somewhere all these people just come up to her and want to talk to her.’ And she [his sister] was like, ‘You don’t have a clue, do you?’”

At that point, Danny found out the truth and decided to continue his relationship with Jessica. Furthermore, she revealed that she had gone to see the well around 2007, some two decades after the accident. Thankfully, the hole is now permanently closed with a lid that includes a personalized inscription, dedicated to Jessica.

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As she goes on to explain to People TV, “To me, it’s a symbol that it could have taken my life, but it didn’t. “I had God on my side that day. I’m hoping that for my children, as they get older, [they will] learn from the historic event that has happened in my life to always be humble.” Jessica’s thoughts on the hairy episode don’t end here, though.

She concludes, “[I want my kids] to never forget where they came from, and to realize that you can’t take life for granted. You really can’t, because at any point in time, it could be gone.” On this note, the revealing interview comes to a close. So what was it like for people now to see the mom-of-two?

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Well, People TV went on to post that particular video on YouTube in June 2019, drawing a sizable response. Indeed, the segment has since earned more than 11,000 views, while several users reacted in the comments section. And as it turned out, one of those individuals had spoken with Jessica in the past.

For you see, the YouTube user wrote, “I met [Jessica] in Tyler, Texas, when I was in college. Super sweet girl and so friendly! She told me that she didn’t remember anything about the time she was in the well. Such a down to earth and inspirational woman.” However, one other comment really stood out.

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“I remember your story from when I was a little girl,” the user, also a mother, wrote. “It’s really wonderful to see where you are today. Your story brought attention to dangers that people didn’t think about. When I bought a house in the country, there was an old well on the property. We made sure it was sealed, and my kids would be safe.”

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