WFAA Rewind: Watch ‘Baby Jessica' rescue coverage 30 years later

Watch WFAA's Dave Cassidy and Tracy Rowlett cover the rescue of "Baby Jessica" from a well in Midland, Texas on Oct. 16, 1987.

Thirty years ago Monday, a 58-hour drama came to an end as rescuers freed “Baby Jessica” McClure from an abandoned well in Midland, Texas.

Jessica McClure was just 18 months old when she fell over 20 feet into a narrow well in a Midland backyard on Oct. 14, 1987. Rescue teams pulled her from the well two-and-a-half days later on Oct. 16.

WFAA’s Dave Cassidy did a bulk of the reporting live on the scene in Midland as viewers state- and nationwide were captivated by Jessica’s fate. The station interrupted an episode of “Max Headroom” for a special report on her rescue.

Current WFAA anchor John McCaa was sent to report from the hospital nearby.

"When I arrived, the scene was packed… so many people I could barely see what was going on," McCaa said. "The moment she was pulled out, a huge cheer went up that rippled across not just the neighborhood and the city but the nation. 

"It was a wonderful moment of tremendous achievement followed by a huge sigh of relief."

Baby Jessica, now Jessica McClure Morales, still lives in Midland and works as an assistant to an elementary school special education teacher there, according to People magazine.

In 2011, Morales turned 25 and got access to a trust fund created with donations from strangers at the time of her rescue. She told People that much of the trust was wiped away in the 2008 stock market crash, but the AP reported she was able to buy a house with help from the funds.

McClure Morales has no memory of being wedged in the pipe or of the 15 operations that followed her ordeal, according to her father. A scar from her hairline to the bridge of her nose is still visible where her head rubbed against the wall of the well. She also lost a toe to gangrene because one leg was pinned above her head in the underground shaft.

© 2017 WFAA-TV


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