Jessica's Well

Wednesday, October 14, 1987… the warm, breezy day in the West Texas town of Midland was moving along routinely when the phones began to ring. A child was involved in a life and death situation that quickly caught the attention of an entire nation and much of the world. Eighteen-month-old Jessica McClure had fallen and was trapped in a well pipe that was only eight inches in diameter.

The first responders of Midland went into action and soon arrived at the tragic scene. They were both shocked and horrified at what they found. Thousands of people began to pray after realizing the incredibly dangerous situation they were watching unfold on live television. Many wondered if there was any hope for a successful outcome to this rescue situation.

The pipe that Jessica had fallen into entrapped her twenty-two feet below the ground. The first concern was to determine if she was alive. Silence was demanded at the site and distantly her crying could be heard. As they listened to her pitiful cries, it gave them hope. Maybe this child could be saved! Now that they knew she was alive, their minds and hearts could turn to plans of what could be done to get her out.

If there was one thing that was available in the oil town of Midland, Texas, it was drilling experts, drilling experience, and drilling equipment. The emergency call went out and rescuers of all kinds assembled at the site. Tears were shed as they realized the great jeopardy that she was in. They listened to her little voice softly wafting from the dark well pipe as she sang a “Winnie the Pooh” song.

Some fifteen hundred miles away I was drawn into this drama because CNN was there covering the story around the clock. I was the administrator of Baptist Park School at the time and was well acquainted with children who struggled in the classroom and had a difficult start academically. I had the privilege of being a part of their academic rescue. What a joy it was to see some of them conquer their difficulties and go on to earn diplomas and advanced degrees.

Sometime our rescue experience involved children who were struggling with a tragedy in life or difficult family situation. What a blessing it was to provide them a loving and stable educational experience which frequently led them to faith in Christ and a walk with Him in life. There were many blessings like these experienced in my forty-two years as the administrator of the school.
I found nothing, however, in my experiences to allow me to identify with the situation I was watching on the television screen that day. A little child trapped alive in what seemed to be a hopeless situation. I wept out loud as my heart was broken for her and her family. I prayed that God’s grace would envelope all who were involved in the rescue.
Jessica had slid down the hole with one leg down and one leg up. She was stuck in a splits position. Cameras and lights gave additional proof of her life and dreadful situation. As the fire and rescue personnel depleted their options, the mining and drilling experts began to move into action.

Their plan was to drill a parallel shaft to a distance several feet below the entrapped baby. Their next phase would be to dig horizontally to a spot below her and then reach out to her from below her wedged position. All was going as planned until they hit a layer of rock. Needing additional help, they brought in some specialty equipment to solve that problem.

The most important concern was the physical health of Jessica. With no food or water and cold temperatures at night, their anxieties were justified as the rescue extended to two days. Time was now becoming the enemy of a successful rescue of a live little girl. The nation and the world prayed for baby Jessica.

On the third day, the cross tunnel opened underneath Jessica. The workers, at the risk of their own lives, had succeeded and the leg of a still trapped child could be seen from below. The rescue was now a crisis. Further time delays could prove fatal. Medical personnel simply had to get her out immediately even if pulling her loose injured her little body. They were of the belief an injured child could be fixed but not a dead one.

On the final effort, the tunnel “Rat” reached her, and it was evident to him that she was still very tightly wedged in place. He had with him a supply of grease which he lathered on both her and the sides of the rescue tunnel just beneath her. With one final try, she popped free and into her rescuers arms. Up the tight rescue tunnel she was carried, and her life was forever changed. I cried when I saw her emerge.
Later, Jessica experienced numerous surgeries to repair the wounds that occurred when her face and head scraped along the well pipe. She also needed work on a portion of her foot that had been denied blood flow because of the twisted position she had been in for those fifty-eight long hours of entrapment. Eventually she lost a small portion of one foot that gangrene had damaged.

She is now a grown woman, wife, and mother. She realizes how blessed she is to have literally no memory of her ordeal. She was quoted in an interview as saying, “God was on my side that day.” “My life is a miracle”.

This special story of God’s grace reminds me of a passage in the book of Psalms.
I remember the day God reached down into the life of a seventeen-year-old young man and pulled him out of a horrible pit of sin, saved his soul, and gave him a new song of praise. I have never been the same.
Has Jesus rescued your heart and given you a new life? He gave His life on Calvary for the people of this world who are trapped by sin. Call out to Him and He will reach down and rescue you for all eternity.

Isn’t God’s grace a wonderful thing?

Roger Allen Cook

I love to write stories about God’s grace. If you have a story I should consider, please contact me at: