Seventeen-month-old Jessy Kraus was released from HCA Wesley Medical Center in Wichita hours after his nationally televised rescue from a well in his back yard. The rescue team had dug a hole alongside the well to safely get him out late Thursday.
Firefighter Tim Deneen feverishly clawed through the last few inches of dirt to reach him, then caressed the boy's tiny, mud-encrusted feet and told him: "Hang in there, just a few more minutes." The boy was brought to the surface as neighbors and other rescuers cheered.
"Actually, it is a miracle and it is a blessing," Jessy's mother, Karen Kraus, said today after the family returned home. She said she had accompanied her son to the hospital, but she couldn't see him en route during the trip because emergency workers were tending to him.
When she finally saw him in the emergency room, she said, "He smiled for me. He knew me. He looked at me. It is a smile I won't ever forget."
Mrs. Kraus' mother, Annie Schlaegel, showed bruises on her arm where firefighters restrained her from frantically rushing over to the well. "A little boy is going to live and have a normal life thanks to them," she said.
Dr. Curt Pickert said Jessy suffered mild hypothermia and superficial abrasions, but was otherwise unhurt.
The ordeal, reminiscent of that of a Texas toddler more than a decade ago, began at 6:55 p.m. Thursday when the boy slipped into the well his parents were digging behind their home in Mulvane, 20 miles south of Wichita. Kraus saw his son fall in, but couldn't reach him in time, Sedgwick County Fire Marshal Greg Thompson said.
The distraught parents could only wait as rescue workers dug their hole seven feet from the well. Oxygen tubes were lowered into the well and warm air was pumped in to keep the boy from getting too cold. Lumber shored up the well's sides to prevent rocks and dirt from falling on the child.
A video camera lowered into the well showed that Jessy's arm was pinned above his head, but he was moving and crying and appeared to be unhurt. The boy even tugged on a rope during the rescue.
Occasionally, Mrs. Kraus would come talk to him from the top of the well, "calming him ... telling him that she loves him," Thompson said.
Under emergency flood lights, about 50 emergency workers dug the shaft and then tunneled over to the well, 2 feet below the boy. As they got closer, they could hear him whimpering. "My stomach was churning the whole time, knowing what he must be going through," said Deneen. "He let out little moans and cries -- whimpers -- throughout the whole time," Deneen told CBS This Morning.
Deneen meticulously pulled more dirt aay from the toddler's legs, comforting him as he worked to let him know someone was with him. Above ground, firefighters watched the drama unfold on a monitor linked to the video camera. Deneen handed the boy, clad in a T-shirt and shorts, to waiting firefighters in the rescue shaft and away he went.
In Midland, Texas, in 1987, the case of 18-month-old Jessica McClure created a nationwide sensation.
She fell into an abandoned well and became trapped 22 feet down in a hole 8 inches wide. It took emergency crews two and half days to reach the little girl. They rescued her in a dramatic moment covered on live television, after digging a parallel shaft and then breaking through the wall of the well.