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Wayback Wednesday: The girl in the well

It seems like it's been awhile since Americans expressed their collective joy over a news event that had a happy ending.

But that's what happened in October 1987 when an 18-month-old girl somehow fell down a well at her family's home in Midland, Texas. Still in its formative years, CNN offered viewers wall-to-wall coverage of rescue efforts.

America was transfixed on what would happen to Jessica McClure.

The rescue was loaded with complications. The Midland Fire Department wasn't exactly sure how to get her out, or if they could get her out of the eight inch well casing 22 feet below ground.

Oil field workers assisted in the rescue that required a parallel shaft to be drilled next to the well and a small tunnel at the end of it to reach Jessica. It took 58 hours to complete, but on Oct. 16, 1987 McClure was finally rescued. The image of her being handed off to a fireman and rushed to an ambulance was replayed over and over again for days afterward.

Here's how Dan Rather called it live on CBS:

McClure made good on her second chance at life. She graduated high school in 2004 and turned 30 earlier this year. McClure is now married and has two children.

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Matt Patterson

Matt Patterson has been with The Oklahoman since 2006. Prior to joining the news staff in 2010, Patterson worked in The Oklahoman's sports department for five years. He previously worked at The Lawton Constitution and The Edmond Sun.... Read more ›