On October 14, 1987, long before Twitter, or Facebook, or even the Internet really, 18-month-old Jessica McClure went viral. The entire country waited with bated breath as rescue teams struggled to save "Baby Jessica" – as she became known in the papers – who was trapped in a well for nearly 60 hours before she was finally extricated, miraculously alive.
It all happened in her family's home in the oil city of Midland, Texas, where her aunt, Jamie Moore, ran a daycare center. Jessica was playing with a few other children in the backyard while her mother, Cissy, watched over them. Cissy went inside the house for just a moment to answer a phone call, and rushed out when she heard the other children screaming because Jessica had fallen down a well that was 22-feet-deep and only eight inches in diameter.
The fact that the well was so deep and narrow and that she was trapped under solid rock made the rescue mission uncommonly difficult, and as each hour passed, parents everywhere watching their worst nightmare unfold on CNN began to lose hope for her survival. But the rescue teams managed to drill a parallel well and then create a tunnel to where baby Jessica was trapped, and finally, at the 58-hour mark, she was safely brought above ground.
Jessica that she has no memory whatsoever of being trapped in the well, and didn't even learn about what happened to her until she saw the drama unfold on an episode of "Rescue 911" when she was five years old. Driven to tears, she asked her stepmother who that poor girl was and was told it was her.
Now 30, Jessica recently spoke about what adult life is like for the most famous baby in the world.
Today, she lives a quiet life in Midland, Texas, where people still sometimes call her "Baby Jessica." Her husband, Danny, 43, is a foreman at a pipe supply company, and Jessica is a special-education teacher's aide at the local elementary school. They have two kids, Simon, 9, and Sheyenne, 7. In many ways, it's a very average American life, but the signs of her traumatic early days of existence are still visible.
Jessica had to undergo 15 surgeries after escaping the well, and today her right foot is still smaller than her left due to losing a small toe to gangrene. There's also still a faint sign of the scar on her forehead that she got from rubbing against the well when she fell asleep.
But another effect of the ordeal is financial. Since Jessica was so famous, hundreds of well-wishers sent her gifts and money, the latter of which was set up in a trust fund that she gained access to when she was 25. Though many assumed she would be rich from the donations, Jessica claims much of the $1.2 million in the trust disappeared during a stock market dive in 2008, and the rest was used simply to buy the modest house they live in.
Still, Jessica is grateful to all of the people that supported her – and to God.
"I think it's amazing that people would come together like that to donate money to a child that was not theirs. I appreciate everything they did." she said. ""I had God on my side that day. My life is a miracle."