Coal Mine Survivor Remains in Coma

01/06/2006 at 08:00 AM EST

Coal Mine Survivor Remains in Coma
Randal McCloy and daughter Isabel
AP
Randal McCloy Jr., the lone survivor of the 13 men trapped in West Virginia's Sago coal mine after a Jan. 2 blast, remains in a coma, doctors said Thursday.

"We do believe there is some injury to the brain," Dr. John Prescott, the dean of the West Virginia University School of Medicine, said at a news conference. "We don't know how his brain will recover."

Prescott did say, however, that McCloy is being weaned off sedation and has squeezed his wife's hand. The patient, a 27-year-old father of two, was moved to a different hospital on Thursday to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy, a treatment to reduce carbon monoxide levels in the blood and restore oxygen levels.

"We have not seen the neurological improvement we would like to see," added Dr. Larry Roberts.

Officials are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion. One former federal mining official said restarting operations after a three-day weekend may have contributed to the tragedy.

As reasons are investigated, families of the victims are considering legal action, said Amber Helms, a daughter of one of the miners, Terry Helms, who was found about 11,200 feet inside the mine, near a transport vehicle that took all 13 men into the work area.

"It's the biggest thing that's going to happen after these miners are put to rest," Amber Helms said on Thursday's Today show.

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