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Alfredo Rampi

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Title: Alfredo Rampi  
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Subject: Artesian aquifer, June 1981
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Alfredo Rampi

Alfredo Rampi
Born (1975-04-11)April 11, 1975
Rome, Italy
Died June 13, 1981(1981-06-13) (agedĀ 6)
Vermicino, Italy

Alfredo Rampi, nicknamed Alfredino which translates as "little Alfredo" (April 11, 1975 - June 13, 1981), was an Italian child who died after falling into a well in Vermicino, a village near Frascati, on Wednesday 10 June 1981.

The incident

At about 7:00pm on that day, Rampi fell into an artesian well which was very narrow and deep (about 30 centimeters wide and 80 meters deep). The depth of the child, on arrival of the first rescuers, was estimated around 36 meters. To reach the child, a parallel well was constructed besides the one in which he was trapped. Unfortunately, the drilling caused the victim to slip an estimated 30 meters further down into the well.

The drama caused unprecedented media attention as the live broadcast on television went on for 18 hours non stop. RAI, Italian public television, records audiences of 21 million people at peak times. The Italian President at the time, Sandro Pertini, personally visited the scene.

As rescue attempts became more desperate, Angelo Licheri, a volunteer, was secured and lowered into the well to try to save Rampi. Licheri did manage to reach him and tried to secure a harness around him to pull him out of the well, but failed. Dramatically, none of the further attempts to save Alfredo had success; in fact, the child only slipped lower and lower. Licheri was upside down in the well for 45 minutes and never completely recovered from the injuries caused by the descent.

After many hours, Rampi's voice (relayed by a microphone) was getting weaker and he is thought to have died around 6:30am on 13 June. It was another volunteer, Donato Caruso, who realized that he was dead while trying once again to secure a harness to him. His body was finally recovered on 11 July, 28 days after his death.

Subsequently, Mrs. Franca Rampi, his mother, founded the "Center Rampi" that helps and encourages the Civil Protection of children.

Media furor

The attempted rescue was a major media event. It was the first time in Italy that a live outside broadcast had attracted millions of people to follow the events on TV. Initially, images were transmitted live because it was believed that there would be a quick and positive outcome. After some time the situation appeared to be slowly worsening, but did not interrupt the transmissions. It posed many questions about privacy and the ethics of broadcasting such events which sparked a widespread public debate.

Mystery surrounding the accident

There was later some speculation surrounding the circumstances of the accident. During the autopsy of Rampi's frozen corpse, it appeared that he was wearing a harness. During police questioning of the attempted rescuer, Angelo Licheri, he said that he had placed the harness on him when he was falling in the hope that it might be used to save him. This theory was challenged by the Fire Brigade who use a similar harness, stating that it would have been virtually impossible to have put it on him in the confines of the well. The judge of the case speculated that he may in fact had been lowered into the well, rather than falling in by accident. The investigations were, however, suspended as it was impossible to reach a verdict.

Lasting impact

Italian alternative rock band Baustelle wrote a song about the tragedy. The song, "Alfredo", is track 10 on their 2008 album "Amen". Among other prizes, Amen won that year's "Targa Tenco", one of the most prestigious music acknowledgments in Italy.

See also


External links

  • Today in History: June 10 MSNBC article mentioning the story
  • "Too Deep" article in The American Magazine

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