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Diggers Reach Jessica but Can't Free Her

October 16, 1987|Associated Press

MIDLAND, Tex. — The rescue of 18-month-old Jessica McClure, trapped for two days in a well, hit a snag today when workers discovered she was stuck in the narrow shaft without enough room to get her out.

"We're going to do some more digging," said Police Chief Richard Czech, who added that another hydraulic system was going to be brought in and that expanding an access hole could take at least another hour.

"Something is holding her. Her right leg is in a strange position. She's standing right up," he said.

Jessica is in remarkably good shape, however, and doctors have decided not to give her any food or water yet, he said.

About 12 inches below where tiny Jessica was lodged 22 feet below ground, workers had bored a hole large enough for a paramedic to reach in and check her condition, Czech said earlier.

"He was able to talk to the little girl. She was able to respond to commands, lift her foot up, do a few little things. She's helpful," Czech said. "We still don't have enough room to get her out."

"She seems to be pretty alert. It looks like her upper body is functioning," the police chief said, but he said one leg was "cramped up or pinched up under her."

Earlier today, rescuers enlarged a hole in the shaft so that an engineer could stick his head in and get a glimpse of Jessica.

Workers inserted two industrial balloons below Jessica to keep her from slipping farther down the well, and a drill bit or metal rod inserted across the shaft earlier remains in place, officials said.

Teams of workers bored through rock so hard that it blunted diamond-tipped drills as they cut a 20-inch diameter hole to remove the frightened child.

Police Sgt. Jeff Haile said the child had been crying for her mother this morning and was no longer singing nursery rhymes as she was Thursday.

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