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Jessica Morales became famous in 1987, when, at 18 months old, she fell down a well in her aunt's backyard. She remained trapped for 58 hours while America watched on CNN.
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Born in Texas in 1986, Jessica McClure Morales, also known as "Baby Jessica," became famous in 1987, when, at 18 months old, she fell down a 22-foot well in her aunt's backyard. She remained trapped in the well for 58 hours, while America watched on CNN, before being rescued.
"Couldn't cage me then, why should it cage me now?"
"You'll always be what you are remembered as."
Remembered worldwide as "Baby Jessica," Jessica McClure Morales was born March 26, 1986, in the oil city of Midland, Texas. She was born to teenage parents, Reba "Cissy" McClure and Lewis "Chip" McClure, who had fallen on hard times in the depths of the Texas oil bust of the mid-1980s.
The first 18 months of Baby Jessica's life passed without the world at large taking much notice. Then, on the morning of Wednesday, October 14, 1987, she suddenly became the most famous child in the country. Jessica's aunt Jamie Moore ran a daycare center out of her home, where that morning Jessica was playing with four other children in the backyard under the supervision of her mother, Cissy, who briefly went inside to answer a phone call, leaving the children momentarily unattended. Minutes later, she heard the kids screaming and rushed back outside to find that her daughter had disappeared. She soon discovered that Baby Jessica had fallen into an eight-inch diameter well and become trapped deep down in its shaft.
How exactly Baby Jessica fell into the well remains unclear. According to her mother, the opening had been covered up by a heavy rock to prevent just such an accident. "I didn't know what to do," Cissy McClure later recalled. "I just ran in and called the police. They were there within three minutes, but it felt like a lifetime."
Baby Jessica remained trapped in the well, 22 feet below ground and only 8 inches wide, for the next 58 hours, while frantic rescue crews attempted to save her life and the entire nation watched transfixed as the drama played out on television. Because she had fallen so deep into the earth -- beneath layers of rock harder than granite -- and because the diameter of the well was so narrow, the rescue mission was extraordinarily difficult.
Using a large rat-hole rig, a machine normally used to plant telephone poles in the ground, rescue teams drilled a 30-inch wide, 29-foot deep hole parallel to the well. They then began the difficult process of drilling a horizontal tunnel between the two wells about two feet below where Baby Jessica was trapped.
In the meantime, rescue workers pumped oxygen into the well and attempted to maintain constant communication with Baby Jessica, who moaned, wailed and for a while even sang nursery rhymes to pass the time. "After listening to her for so long, I could tell her moods," a detective on the scene recalled. "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. I would say 80 percent of the time she was either crying or making some kind of noise we could hear. When we weren't calling words of encouragement, we'd tell her to sing for us.
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