Miner Randy McCloy: 'He's Very Strong'
Randal McCloy and daughter Isabel
03/01/2006 at 11:00 AM EST
The other day, Anna and Randy McCloy were teasing each other, just like old times. "I was joking around and I called him 'attitude,'" Anna says. But this time, "He looked at me and said, 'Even bigger attitude.'"
That lighthearted moment seems a miracle, given that just nine weeks ago, McCloy, the lone survivor of the Jan. 2 Sago Mine disaster, was rushed to an emergency room minutes from death as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Today, says Anna, her 26-year-old husband has made a recovery that is nothing short of "amazing." At the rehabilitation center in Morgantown where he has stayed since Jan. 26, McCloy is piling up victories big and small: feeding himself a french fry; taking hesitant steps using a grocery cart for support; watching television in bed with 4-year-old son Randal and eliciting happy shrieks from daughter Isabel, 16 months. He's even back to "bickering" with Anna and hectoring the staff, telling one speech therapist, "Don't patronize me," Anna says.
No one wants to do that. Yet, since McCloy seems to have no recollection of the accident, 25-year-old Anna has made the decision, for now, not to tell her husband that 12 of his fellow miners perished 260 feet underground. "We've told him that he's in rehab; he doesn't ask why," Anna says. "I'm a little leery of telling him – I don't want him to go into any kind of depression."
McCloy will need his energy for the road ahead. "Mentally, he's getting there, but there's still a lot of confusion," says his mother, Tammy Flint. "It's like the right word is there, but it doesn't come out." She and McCloy's stepfather, Tim, who visit daily, are cheered by every sign of progress but have sad moments. Says Tammy: "I fear he'll never be exactly the same." But Anna has no such worries. "In my heart," she says, "I believe he's going to be perfectly okay."