Friday, January 11, 2013

Wells & Accidents - Little Randy

Typical abandoned irrigation well
Little Randy, just a three-year old at the time, was visiting his grandfather with his family in a small Texas town in the far west of the state.  The kids were out playing near an abandoned irrigation well that simply had a barrel sitting on top of the open, 16-inch casing.  Kids being kids, they moved the barrel to peer down the 300 foot hole.  Kids also being kids, Little Randy managed to step into the well and went feet first down the hole.  He hit water at 68 feet, but was able to keep enough pressure on the sides of the casing to keep his head above water.

Somebody was looking out for Little Randy that day because Manuel Corral just happened to be there working on the farm, and he quickly suggested that they lower him down the well - headfirst with arms outstretched.  He'd grab onto Little Randy and they could haul them both back out.  He argued there was no time for other actions.  Manuel also happened to be of very slight build - a mere 125 pounds.

So it was decided.  They tied a rope to his ankles and down the well he went.  The description from the local newspaper coverage says it best:  "..and he started the 68-foot head-first decent into the small dark well shaft.  He became lodged several times and had to claw himself free.  He became dizzy from the inverted position of his body.  The foul smell of the long unused well, the pain inflicted to his ankles by the rope and the thought that he might become stuck in the well undoubtedly caused Corral to approach a point of panic many times during the long 15-minute period it required to reach the boy.  Only the thought of little Randy in the water below kept him squirming and inching his way steadily closer to the end of his mission.  Finally, Corral reached the cold and crying lad after Randy had been in the well about an hour.  Both were pulled back to the surface."

Are you kidding me?!  What a story.  Manuel may have been slight of build, but in my book he had the heart and guts to match any man alive.  And this all took place the day before Christmas, 1959, so he gave the entire family quite a Christmas present.  Little Randy today still lives in Texas - about 500 miles from that fateful site.

As I've said before, abandoned wells are accidents waiting to happen, so please get them properly taken care of as soon as possible. This situation had an incredible and amazingly happy ending, but many do not. 

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