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Rescuer rushes baby rescued from fall into a well where lay for three days before she was rescued, Oct. 16, 1987.
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During particularly grim news weeks, TIME and other news outlets have searched for uplifting stories to put the week in context and offer readers hope.

One of those weeks was 30 years ago, when 18-month-old Jessica McClure, nicknamed “Baby Jessica,” fell into a well in Midland, Texas, on Oct. 14, 1987. She had gotten trapped in a dogleg in the shaft 22 feet below the surface. After emergency responders in the city known for oil drilling dropped a microphone into the well and heard her voice, drilling began to rescue another precious resource.

McClure was pulled out of the well 58 hours later on Oct. 16th — three decades ago this Monday — and the good news of her rescue couldn’t have come at a better time. TIME explained why in its Oct. 26, 1987, issue:

Today, “Baby Jessica” is Jessica McClure Morales, an assistant to a special education teacher at an elementary school in Midland, Texas. People, which caught up with her earlier this year, reports that her injuries sustained from the fall are barely noticeable; she has a small scar on her forehead and her right foot is smaller than her left foot because it had to be reconstructed after it became gangrenous while it was “above her head during the entire episode.”

People also reports that, while the 2008 stock market crash wiped out most of the trust fund started from the $1.2 million in donations she received Good Samaritans, there was enough for her and her husband Danny to buy a house, where they’re raising two children of their own. And the lesson of her rescue, as she sees it, applies decades later. “If you look hard enough,” she said, “there are so many good people in this world.”

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Write to Olivia B. Waxman at

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