(Air1 CLOSER LOOK) – The 58-hours it took to rescue Baby Jessica from a well back in 1987 remains one of the world’s most watched news stories of all time. There were “multiple, multiple miracles,” says her father Chip McClure. “More than you can count, to the weather cooperating, to the equipment that was there and just the fact that she survived -- God’s hand was evident.”
On that day in October, 18-month-old Jessica McClure wandered away and got wedged into a narrow pipe in her aunt’s backyard, first falling to 8ft below ground but later dropping even deeper to 22ft. Her mother Cissy and father stood by, watching helplessly – yet comforted by uncommon reassurance.
Chip rushed to the well site where rescuers had dropped a reporter’s microphone down the hole to hear his little daughter. “And he put those headphones on my head,” he pauses. “I heard her crying…and I knew it was true.”
“When that happened, I fell to my knees and I said ‘God I can’t take this’ – and just like that there was a peace that came over me unlike anything I had ever experienced: I knew from that moment forward she was gonna be fine.”
Jessica’s mother was waiting in the ambulance, her father sat in a police car awaiting a call on the radio when the rescue was complete. That was unnecessary. “As soon as she was out, there was a roar that started right there at the well site, and spread all the way through Midland Texas and I guess, through the nation…you could hear it spread as people began to scream and cheer – an incredible moment.”
Despite the media attention at the rescue and people holding signs of encouragement lining the streets, Chip didn’t understand the full impact of Jessica’s story until he started flipping through TV channels in her hospital room. Jessica was on nearly every one.
In the days and months after her rescue, the family continued to receive thousands of phonecalls and literally truckloads of mail from people all over the world.
“We had an answering machine, it would be blinking ‘100’… Thousands of calls poured in from people in distress who were comforted by the McClure family faith and the good news of Jessica’s rescue.
They said, “ ‘I wanna thank you, your family has restored my family,’” their messages echoing hundreds of calls and letters from people suffering anxieties and issues. “ ‘if you could make it through what you went through, we can make it through this.’ ”
‘Baby’ Jessica is a now is in her 30s, a married woman with kids of her own, herself a Christian and leading what her father calls a “normal” life.
But dad confirms, “she certainly knows she is a miracle baby” and that God used her story to touch lives around the world.