Firefighter recalls 1999 rescue of 'Baby Jessy' from water well in Mulvane

By: David Marcus - Email
By: David Marcus - Email

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HAYSVILLE, Kan. - The stories were remarkably similar.

Nn 1987, the nation watched as 18-month-old "Baby Jessica" was rescued from a well in Midland, Texas. Then, twelve years later, 17-month-old "Baby Jessy" was brought to safety from a well in Mulvane.

And one Sedgwick County firefighter, still on the job, was there that day.

"On the way down to the alarm, I said, 'this sounds like the Baby Jessica rescue that had happened a few years previous in Texas", says Captain David Pote, now with Station 34 in Haysville.

It was a nearly five hour rescue seen live on CNN and abroad. Seventeen month-old Jessy Kraus, fallen down a 35-foot well in Mulvane, finally hoisted to safety.

Fire Captain Pote, still working in Haysville at Fire Station 34, was part of a joint rescue effort involving crews from across South-Central Kansas.

Captain Pote and other firefighters dug a rescue trench and a horizontal tunnel over to the well shaft. Finally, at 11:45 p.m., Baby Jessy was pulled to safety.

It was an emotional moment, both for Captain Pote and everyone who was there.

"As we came up the ladder and everybody started cheering and applauding, of course, there was tremendous satisfaction," Pote says. "Everyone wanted to high-five each other and it was like we just won a great football game or something."

For Captain Pote. a 29-year veteran firefighter, it was one of his career moments. And one he credits to training, and preparation.

"It was a perfect end result. Couldn't have gone any better. We were very fortunate everything went in our favor, and it just came together that way. We needed it to."


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