Kathy Fiscus

Kathy Fiscus

Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Death 8 Apr 1949 (aged 3)
San Marino, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Bonita, San Diego County, California, USA
Plot Lot 6, Section 32, Block 12
Memorial ID 10679 · View Source
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Accident Victim. She will be remembered as the little girl who fell into an abandoned well, and despite the heroic efforts of an army of volunteers working frantically for three days, she was found dead. The world watch in horror as this event unfolded capturing each detail on the new medium device called the television. This story was a turning point for television news coverage. The abandoned well, which actually was a rusty pipe with a 14-inch opening, was concealed by high weeds. Located in a Los Angeles, California suburb, it had been drilled in 1904 to access water for nearby citrus groves, but had not been in used for many years. A wooden cover had been placed over the well but it was dislodged leaving the pipe opening exposed. Kathy and two older playmates were running in the field when she fell 94 feet down the open hole. Hearing Kathy screaming, the playmates rushed to get help. When Kathy's mother, Alice, reached the well, she called down the shaft, “Are you all right, honey?” Kathy replied “Yes” and that was the last sound heard from the well. Ironically, Kathy's father, David Fiscus, was employed by a water company and had just given testimony before a legislative committee in support of a law to require the cementing of unused wells. Several options were reviewed on which method to use for rescuing the child. The rescue proved to be a much more difficult ordeal than was first anticipated as simple attempts did not have any results. It was decided to drill a second shaft along side of the well and after more than 50 hours, a worker crawled down the shaft reaching through the wall of the well to retrieve the child's body. She had drown as she was found in water. The old well that claimed her life has been filled; the actual site is unmarked and located on an athletic field at San Marino High School. In the weeks that passed after the ordeal, Kathy's mother received letters of condolence from nearly every country in the world. Country music recording artist, Jimmie Osborne, wrote and released a song called “The Death of Little Kathy Fiscus,” which sold more than a million copies and reached the Country Music Billboard Top Ten. The artist donated half the earnings from this recording to the Fiscus family. Although the incident resulted in “Kathy Fiscus Laws,” which requires all abandoned wells to be capped and filled throughout the United States, there are still uncapped wells on private property resulting in this tragedy being repeated: near Cleveland, Ohio two-year-old Theresa Fregi fell head first into a well on March 17, 1967 and in Texas 18-month-old Jessica McClure fell into a well on October 14, 1987; both were rescued alive.

Bio by: Linda Davis

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 9 Jul 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 10679
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Kathy Fiscus (21 Aug 1945–8 Apr 1949), Find a Grave Memorial no. 10679, citing Glen Abbey Memorial Park, Bonita, San Diego County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .