Jessica McClure, at her 2004 high school graduation ceremony
Tim Fischer/Midland Reporter-Telegram/AP
MIDLAND, Texas – Jessica McClure, the toddler who captured the nation's heart and evoked its prayers 18 years ago from 22 feet below the surface of this oil patch town, is a married woman.
McClure – now 19 and a student at Midland College – was married Saturday to Daniel Morales, 32, at a Church of Christ in a small rural community outside of the town. The couple met at a day-care center where Morales’s sister worked with the bride.
Inside, the church sanctuary was decorated with loops of white tulle for the private afternoon ceremony. At the altar was a white archway, and suspended underneath were two open hearts, mirroring the interlocking hearts on the couple’s wedding invitation. Posted on the door was a request made to guests: "No Cameras or Picture Phones! No Video Cameras" – a message in step with the extremely private McClure family.
"She's always been that way, just laid-back and not a lot of fanfare," says Cedie Proctor, an aunt of Jessica’s.
McClure – known to the world as Baby Jessica – was 18 months old when she fell into a narrow, abandoned well in the back yard of her aunt's home in 1987. Within hours, scores of rescue workers were feverishly boring into the earth, hoping to reach her before she succumbed to the cold. After 58 hours and with a global audience, two paramedics plucked Jessica from the well and brought her to safety.
At 25, McClure stands to earn a trust fund reportedly valued in excess of $1 million, made up of contributions from well-wishers around the world.
"She's 'Baby Jessica,' everybody’s baby," Morales recently told PEOPLE.
Those who know McClure say she's a quiet person and that the family long ago decided to strongly resist attention for the famous event that occurred almost 20 years ago. One of the only clues to the impending wedding was a Wal-Mart registry.
"She hardly talked," says Abby Casas, who went to Greenwood County High School with Jessica, who graduated in 2004. "But everybody knew who she was."