- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

FRISCO CITY, Ala. (AP) — After a tense 13 hours of prayer and digging, rescue workers pulled a 22-month-old boy to safety yesterday morning from an abandoned well into which he fell while playing in a vacant lot.

The boy, Jermere McMillan, was described as scratched and bruised but calm when brought out for jubilant family, friends and rescue workers.

“He was as happy as he could be,” said Frisco City firefighter Jimmy Brown.

The child, with his mother, Mica Wilson, was taken to a hospital inMobile, about 60 miles south of Frisco City, for a checkup. He was listed in good condition at the hospital, an upbeat ending to an ordeal that began at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday when he fell into the well while playing with his older brother and sister.

Neighbors said they were unaware that a well was in the vacant lot and that grass had grown over it, obscuring the danger. An Alabama Power Co. drill and a rescue team from Mobile with special training were summoned to the site — where more than 100 gathered — to dig a separate hole and reach the baby lodged in the 14-foot-deep well.

“There was a lot of praying during the night,” said a cousin, Tammy Howard. “Oh, yes, it was a miracle.”

Along with rescue workers and paramedics, a doctor was on the scene all night to give medical advice as the digging continued. The boy was brought out shortly before 6 a.m.

“When he came out, he saw his mamma and he called out for his mamma,” Miss Howard said.

Mayor Jim Cave, who spent the night at the site, said the warm night helped ward off any danger of hypothermia. A camera was dropped into the well to keep an eye on the boy, he said, and the main concern was that the hole was so small the child might not be able to breathe.

“It wouldn’t have taken but a little dirt on that child to suffocate him,” Mr. Cave said.

After the rescue, the well and the hole dug for it were filled with dirt to prevent another accident.

Mr. Brown said the volunteer fire department also did not know about the well. “The man who cuts the grass didn’t even know about it,” he said.

In 1987, 18-month-old Jessica McClure, of Midland, Texas, created a nationwide sensation after she fell into an abandoned well and became trapped 22 feet below ground in a hole 8 inches wide. It took emergency crews 2 days to reach the little girl. Jessica recovered from her injuries.

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