Blames Inadequate Supervision by Mother, Aunt : Texas Cites Poor Care in Jessica's Fall Into Well

Associated Press

Little Jessica McClure's 58-hour ordeal in an abandoned well was the result of inadequate supervision by the child's mother and aunt at an unlicensed day-care facility, a state official said in a letter that included a stern lecture on child care.

The letter--dated Oct. 30, about two weeks after the accident and released Monday--was sent by the Texas Department of Human Resources to Jamie Moore, Jessica's aunt.

Jessica, then 18 months old, fell into the narrow well in the backyard of Moore's home on Oct. 14. The dramatic and successful struggle to save her riveted the nation.

"The Texas Department of Human Resources has found there is reason to believe the child's injuries and the time spent in the well are the result of negligent supervision by child care provider Reba McClure (Jessica's mother)," Carolyn Langendorf, day-care licensing regional director, said in the letter.

Langendorf also wrote that there was reason to believe that Moore should have made sure the well was capped.

The agency advised Moore that because her home was unlicensed, continuing to care for children would be a criminal and civil violation.

Ceased Operations

Moore stopped operating a day-care center soon after the investigation was initiated in October. Her number is unlisted and she could not be reached for comment, but she told an Odessa television station that the well should have been capped by previous owners.

During the agency's inquiry, it was revealed that Moore was caring for six children at her home, Langendorf said.

Reba McClure was supervising Jessica and the other children but had gone to answer the phone when Jessica fell into the hole.

"It was unregulated child care," Langendorf said today.

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