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Jessica McClure To Unveil Plaque Commemorating Her Rescue

October 15, 1988 GMT

MIDLAND, Texas (AP) _ With a little help from her mother, 2 1/2 -year-old Jessica McClure unveiled a bronze plaque Saturday commemorating her rescue one year ago after 58 hours trapped in an abandoned well.

Jessica squealed with delight and squirmed in her mother’s arms while about 150 people crowded in to see the plaque, which shows the smiling, dusty faces of rescue workers when they pulled the bandaged child up a rescue shaft.

″Chip and I are still thanking the Lord for getting us our beautiful baby back,″ Cissy McClure said at the ceremony. ″This rescue meant a lot to us.″

Mayor Carroll Thomas praised the spirit of the volunteer rescuers, many of whom came from cities outside Midland to help.

″Those people responded marvelously, on the spur of the moment, and they came as fast as they could,″ Thomas said.

The plaque, designed by Midland artist Mary Griffith, reads: ″Nothing the heart gives away is gone. It is kept in the hearts of others.″

Thomas announced the creation of an annual award to be given by Midland to another U.S. city which shows community spirit akin to that displayed in Midland during Jessica’s ordeal. The first such award will be given next year on the second anniversary of Jessica’s rescue.

Jessica fell into the 8-inch-wide abandoned water well in her aunt’s back yard on Oct. 14, 1987, and captured the world’s attention when she cried for her mother and softly sang nursery rhymes until her rescue in front of live television cameras.

Volunteers drilled a shaft parallel to the well, their progress made agonizingly slow because the hard rock dulled even diamond-tipped drill bits. After two days of drilling, they made a horizontal shaft just under Jessica and plucked her out Oct. 16.

Midland firefighters and paramedics had joined with oil drilling engineers and roughnecks for the painstaking effort.

The plaque is intended to thank them and the oilfield service companies that provided equipment used by the volunteers. Jim and Joy Cook of Corpus Christi provided funds for the 4-by-6-foot bas relief on the side of a community center in downtown Midland.

During her ordeal, Jessica was wedged in the shaft in such a position that blood flow to her right foot was impaired and she lost a small patch of skin from her forehead.

Jessica lost her right little toe and part of her big toe and skin had to be stretched over the forehead wound, but after spending more than a month in the hospital her doctors say she apparently hasn’t suffered any other adverse physical or psychological effects.

In an interview published in Sunday’s editions of the Odessa American, Jessica’s 19-year-old parents said their daughter is normal with no memory of the tumble that made world headlines.

″I don’t think she realizes she’s any different,″ Mrs. McClure said. ″She knows she’s Jessica and she’s the little girl that fell in the well, but that doesn’t mean anything to her.″

After a squabble over rights to the story between two factions of people who were involved in the rescue, a Los Angeles production company is drafting a script for a television movie about Jessica’s saga.

The toddler has a trust fund at a local bank that will be used for future medical bills and will be turned over to her when she becomes 26.

In December 1987, the Midland City Council passed an ordinance requiring that abandoned wells be covered.