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USA Insider 9-1-1

'9-1-1' Recreated Famous 'Baby Jessica' Incident When A Child Was Trapped In A Well

The '9-1-1' episode "Eddie Begins" recreates the infamous "Baby Jessica" case from 1987.

By Tyler McCarthy
A water well

The episode of “9-1-1” titled “Eddie Begins” not only lets viewers know the complete backstory of Eddie Diaz (Ryan Guzman), but it pretty faithfully recreates an infamous 1987 incident that saw a child get trapped inside a well. 

The episode finds Eddie reminiscing about how he received a Silver Star for his time in the military and the toll his tour of duty took on his wife, Shannon (Devin Kelley), and son, Christopher (Gavin McHugh). As he remembers what a difficult time it was, the 118 encounters a family that’s going through an even more difficult time. 

They arrive at a ranch property for a call involving a missing child. Athena Grant (Angela Bassett) initially thought it was an abduction but quickly realized there is an abandoned well on the property. Sure enough, Eddie discovers a small exposed hole in the yard. A camera lowered inside confirms the 5-year-old is stuck in an incredibly narrow space more than 50 feet down — but alive. 

For anyone who was around in 1987, the story likely sounds very familiar to an incident in Midland, Texas, that saw 18-month-old Jessica McClure, otherwise known as Baby Jessica, fall 22 feet into a well while playing with other kids at her aunt’s home day-care center, according to "History." The youngster cried for her mom and tried to sing songs to herself to keep calm during the 58 hours it took rescuers and volunteers to drill a parallel shaft so they could get down to her. 

Although her cries were heartbreaking, they were signs that she was alive and breathing, which gave the community hope. Soon, they gave the nation hope as news crews gathered at the Texas property to watch the events unfold and hope for the best. On Oct. 14, 1987, the world breathed a sigh of relief as a bandaged Jessica emerged from underground strapped to the chest of a brave man who repelled down to rescue her, according to "Time." 

On "9-1-1," things don’t go as smoothly. In this instance, Eddie goes down a parallel shaft that's cut in a matter of hours where he finds the boy frightened and cold. He was given 30 minutes to dig his way to him but wasn’t able to secure the boy before getting yanked up by the 118 above. In a courageous act befitting a Silver Star recipient, he cuts his rescue line so he can secure the kid. 

Chimney comes down with a fresh line and goes back up to return the boy safely to his mother. However, an ill-timed lightning strike hits the encampment above, making it impossible for the team to go back for Eddie. With little oxygen and the water rising, Eddie is on the brink of death when a flashback to the bold lengths he went to in Afghanistan to get back to Christopher fills him with newfound determination. He springs into action and miraculously manages to swim down into the well and find a flooded underground tunnel that leads him out. 

Just like that, Christopher gets to grow up with his dad alive and well. The same thing happened for Baby Jessica, now Jessica McClure Morales. She grew up just fine after the incident. All she has to show for it are a small scar on her forehead and a slightly smaller foot that had to be reconstructed due to it becoming gangrenous in the well, according to "People." Today, she is married with two children and works as a special education teacher. They live a happy life in a home purchased with the money from a trust set up by generous citizens who were captivated by her story.

“I think it’s amazing that people would come together like that to donate money to a child that was not theirs,” she told the outlet in 2017, 30 years after her ordeal. “I appreciate everything they did.”

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