GREENE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A six-year-old girl is back safe in the arms of her parents after being trapped at the bottom of a well for three terrifying hours. Layla Willett of Baldwin County, Alabama went on a school field trip to a farm in Greene County where the child fell into a hole.
It was a situation like none other the members of Mississippi Task Force Three had ever faced. How to get a little girl out of a well 35 feet deep and 12 inches wide? Officials said the hole was small enough for a child to fall in, but not big enough to send an adult down to get her out.
Robert Pickering of the Hattiesburg Fire Department said, "Just her age and maturity, would she be able to follow the instructions to get into the harness? And once we got her into the harness, it was just trying to keep her calm while we got her out."
Rescuers said keeping the little girl calm during the three hour ordeal was key and that reassurance started with a man who was there before rescuers arrived.
"He's a youth minister and he's very good at communicating with children. So he was able to communicate with the little girl. He kept her as calm as possible under the circumstances," said Trent Robertson, Green County Emergency Management Director. "It was very cold, very dark and it was extremely muddy in the bottom of the well. She was so deep it was extremely difficult to see her, but we were able to tie a Capri Sun on a string and lower down to her so she could drink that."
Robertson said, "We even sent her a baby doll down and that really helped her out. She was extremely comforted."
Rescuers said one of the obstacles was that girl was stuck in the mud.
"Her legs were about half way buried in mud which caused, once we did get her into the harness and we started trying to pull her up, she was suctioned into the mud," Pickering said. "So it took two or three attempts before she was able to get out of the mud."
Once the six-year-old Layla was free, a sense of joy and relief came over everyone.
Pickering said, "Once we saw her head come out of that hole, we were all just elated and excited to see that."
"There wasn't a dry eye in the crowd, including mine," said Robertson.
Watch YouTube video of the moment Layla was pulled to safety: http://youtu.be/QgkvIIzAo8E?t=6m19s
Robertson said Layla did not appear to be seriously injured, but was taken to the hospital where she was treated and released. While everyone was glad to see a happy ending, Robertson said Layla was a little sad.
"As a matter of fact when we started coming out of that hole with her, she got really upset because she left her baby doll," said Robertson.