Jessica McClure Morales (born March 26, 1986) became famous at the age of 18 months after falling into a well in her aunt's backyard in Midland, Texas, on October 14, 1987. Between that day and October 16, rescuers worked for 58 hours to free her from the eight-inch (20 cm) well casing 22 feet (6.7 m) below the ground. The story gained worldwide attention (leading to some criticism as a media circus), and later became the subject of a 1989 television movie Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure on ABC. As presented in it, a vital part of the rescue was the use of the then relatively new technology of waterjet cutting.
CNN, then a fledgling cable news outlet, was on the scene with around-the-clock coverage of the rescue effort. This massive media saturation of the ordeal prompted then-President Ronald Reagan to state that "everybody in America became godmothers and godfathers of Jessica while this was going on."
From the beginning, and throughout the incident, the switchboard for a local media outlet, KMID-TV, was flooded with telephone calls from news organizations and private individuals around the world, seeking the latest information on rescue efforts--and in some cases, sharing their own insight into this and similar incidents.
In 1988, McClure and her family appeared on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee to talk about the incident.
Ron Short, a muscular roofing contractor who was born without collar bones because of cleidocranial dysostosis and so could collapse his shoulders to work in cramped corners, arrived at the site and offered to go down the shaft; they accepted his offer, but did not use it.
The photograph of McClure being rescued fetched the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Spot News Photography to Scott Shaw of the Odessa American.
ABC made a television movie of the story in 1989, Everybody's Baby: The Rescue of Jessica McClure, starring Patty Duke and Beau Bridges. It featured many participants in the actual rescue and its coverage as extras.
On May 30, 2007, USA Today ranked McClure number 22 on its list of "25 lives of indelible impact."
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, stating,
She was trapped in there with a broken arm in the dark, in a life-and-death situation she was singing nursery rhymes to herself and being brave...It made my problems seem tiny. So as a prayer to her and myself, I decided I wasn't going to drink till she got out of that well. It was like I was tricking myself, telling myself that I wasn't going to quit for good, just until she got out. It took three days to get her out, and I haven't had a drink since.
After the incident:
Following McClure's rescue on October 16, 1987, surgeons had to amputate a toe due to gangrene from loss of circulation while in the well. She also has a scar on her forehead where her head rubbed against the well casing. She has had 15 surgeries over the years, and has no first-hand memory of the event. She graduated from Greenwood High School, in a small community 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. They met at a day care center where his sister worked with her. They have two children: Simon and Sheyenne.
On March 26, 2011, when McClure Morales turned 25, she received a trust fund of donations worth up to $800,000. Her father said she had discussed setting up a trust fund for the college education of her children. It had earlier helped in the purchase of her present home, which is less than two miles (3.2 km) from the site of the 1987 incident.
In popular culture:
Lucie Brock-Broido's long narrative poem "Jessica from the Well" tells the story from McClure's point of view, describing her as having a basic understanding of the physical and mythic elements of her situation. It has been reprinted numerous times.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license