Whatever Happened to Baby Jessica? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

8/19/02

Whatever Happened to Baby Jessica?

In 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure was rescued from an abandoned well in Midland. It was a drama that drew world-wide attention. Today, she is a normal 17-year-old making good grades and participating in school activities.

The 11th grader is said to have no memory at all of the 58 hour ordeal. Not only does Jessica have no memory of the event that made her famous, she's also bored by talk of the incident, which claimed her right little toe and left some minor scars. 15 years later, you'll also find she has regained her anonymity.

It was Friday, October 16, 1987 when 18-month-old Jessica McClure was lifted to safety in the glare of television cameras from all over the world. She had been trapped 22 feet underground in a dry well in her aunt's Midland backyard.

'He has her!' 'That's one tough cookie,' said the news anchors who delivered the report live as she was hoisted from underground. Rescuers worked round the clock digging a hole parallel to the well Jessica was trapped in. Oxygen and heat were pumped into the well, and a TV photographers microphone was dropped down the well to listen to Jessica. At one point it picked her voice up as she sang 'Winnie the Pooh'.

Finally, 58-hours after she fell, baby Jessica was hoisted out of the ground to great cheers. The event was carried live on local and national television. Midland news crews remember the event as one that united the world. "The world came to a halt. We got phone calls from Australia and England. The outpouring of emotion was phenomenal," says Don Woodward of KWES News 9.

Jessica is now a junior in high school in Midland. Her divorced parents Chip McClure and Cissy Porter have granted only one interview in the last five years. They have not released a picture of Jessica to the media in seven years. The family says they want everyone to know she's a healthy, active and loving girl.. But they don't want people recognizing her everywhere she goes. "I really respect them for this. I think they've been very protective of her and are trying to give her as normal a life as possible," says Kathy Swindler of KWES.

Today, the well is still there, in the backyard of another Midland family. But it is safe now, capped and sealed in loving memory of Jessica, who's story is said to have had the happiest ending of any major news event in American history since we landed on the moon.

After the 58 hour ordeal, gifts and cash poured in from strangers who had watched coverage of the rescue. The money was placed in a trust fund in Jessica's name. Today, that trust fund holds more than $1 million, waiting for Jessica to turn 25.

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