Friday, March 03, 2006
McCloy will 'roll his eyes' at all the attention
I have been reporting on Sago mine survivor Randy McCloy's recovery for two months now, and yesterday, I interviewed his wife, Anna. While I had seen and heard her speak at the few press conferences she has held so far, I have never seen her as relaxed and animated as she was yesterday. The reason is simple: She told me it wasn't until just a week ago that she felt Randy was showing signs of real recovery -- speaking to her and their children, able to remember details, and perhaps most important, shining through with a sense of humor.

For much of the past two months, she and Randy's doctors have described his recovery as "miraculous" and "exceeding their expectations." But in talking to them yesterday, it became clear that while they have been optimistic, it is really only now that they are confident of Randy's ability to regain much of what the Sago mine disaster threatened to take from him forever -- his essential personality, his ability to interact with friends and family.

Anna has become well-practiced at dealing with the media. She told me with a big chuckle that Randy will most likely roll his eyes at the notion of being the center of attention. She says he's aware that a lot of media attention awaits him when he leaves the hospital. My guess is there will be a temptation to cast Randy as a symbol of all that is good and troubled about the coal mining industry. Even without that burden, it would be challenging enough for them to handle all of the interview requests and shrug off the inevitable misrepresentations that happen when stories are retold.

I just hope they can regain some peace and quiet and reconnect with their community, which has lost so much.
Posted By Chris Huntington, CNN Correspondent: 10:20 AM ET
  20 Comments
This was a true feel good story. It was nice to see Anna smile. After watching AC for hours(I couldn't turn off the tv)I feel connected to these people. I have a brother that works for the same company that owns Sago Mine. He kept calling during the evening and when AC said that all 13 were still alive he called and said no way. It would be impossible. I reminded him to have faith, but in the end he was right. The emotional toll this has taken on miners is great. They deal with life and death every day. Miners have a strong community bond. They are good people and will support this family. I believe that his physical recovery will be nothing compared to the emotional recovery that will take a life time. We can only hope that the media (including AC) will leave him alone.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl, Wake Forest North Carolina : 10:42 AM ET
I'm glad things are steadily improving. I hope that they will continue to do so.
Posted By Anonymous Heidi Uhlman, Fort Gratiot, MI : 11:01 AM ET
I'm so glad to hear this. A sense of humor is a sure sign of recovery. In fact, I think that total recovery in any situation is impossible without a sense of humor. It just helps put things in perspective.
Posted By Anonymous Wendy, Kentwood MI : 12:11 PM ET
I am so sorry to hear about that and I hope that he continues to recover!
Posted By Anonymous Molly, Cartersville, GA : 12:32 PM ET
such good news. thank you for the update - I have been thinking about mr. mccloy and his family and wondering how they are doing.
Posted By Anonymous holli, los angeles, ca : 12:36 PM ET
Having stayed up till the wee hours watching the Sago mine tragedy,thanks for finally finding a story with a happy resolution. Bring on the floats, the Academy Awards,and,especially the courageous spirit of a young man whose personal strength and loving family allowed him to beat the odds in this strangely convoluted world we live in!
Posted By Anonymous Angie, San Antonio : 12:39 PM ET
We never know what the Creator has in store for us. Only Randy himself knows the details of his inward journey since the accident and during his recovery; to whom he spoke and what he learned while mingling between the worlds. And it isn't for the masses to know - the inner wisdoms he's gained are his alone. To Randy I say: many blessings my friend, you are indeed a light in this sometimes dark world.
Namaste to you and yours,
Dani Clifton, Shaman
Molalla, Oregon
Posted By Anonymous Dani Clifton, Molalla Oregon : 1:06 PM ET
Whew, I have been wondering what was happening as Randy is recovering. It is such a relief to hear that he is back in the real world and that miracles do still exist! Thanks for reporting a feel good story...we need a lot more of these!!
Posted By Anonymous Diane, Hartington, NE : 1:08 PM ET
Our coal mining community is updated daily on the steady recovery of Mr. McCloy. He has been in all of our prayers as well as his family. We will continure to support Anna as she is beside her husband during this difficult time.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy Coal Camp, WV : 1:17 PM ET
Thank God that Randy has had more improvement, it's a blessing that Randy has been able to respond to his two children and also react to the doctors and now his speech is improved. Thank God for the blessing that Randy has improved.
Posted By Anonymous Chastina Harlan Kentucky : 1:29 PM ET
I'm thrilled to hear that Randy is doing well. This country needs to step up and make mines safer for their workers. What these companies don't seem to realize is that miners are people, with families that depend on them, and they aren't disposable. What they do is very important and we couldn't survive without them. Let's give them the safe work environment they deserve.
Posted By Anonymous Courtney, Chagrin Falls, OH : 1:31 PM ET
I am so eager to see how Randy is after this is all over. I am from the area of the sago mine and my family worked the mines (my cousin was killed in one years ago). Nothing has ever touched me like this disaster. I am so happy for Anna and Randy that he has come so far in this short period of time. He and the families of the lost miners have been in our prayers since it all began. My only hope is that they all overcome this all and are able to move on in their lives and be proud of themselves and their loved ones.
Posted By Anonymous Katrina, Lake Butler Florida : 1:55 PM ET
I think it's wonderful that Mr. McCloy is doing so well. But it has taken the lives of many miners to get owners and coal operators to make mining as safe as it is today. My father worked in the mines years ago when the coal was so low when he had to lie on his back, side, and knees to shovel it. When the coal was high enough, they would use ponies. There was no worry about dust or much worry about methane gas. You looked out for yourself and each other the best you could. He was injured many times and black lung finally took his life. My hope is that the deaths of the other thirteen men underground will bring about change for the better. When we can track the whereabouts of a vehicle, we should be able to tell where people are. And when hundreds of thousands of teenagers run about with a cell phone to their ear, there should be a communication device that would work underground. People slowly forget about these tragedies and move on, but these men will never be forgotten.
Posted By Anonymous Bertha Blackburn, Wise, VA : 1:58 PM ET
Many people like to know the intimate details of someone else's life because they are merely curious and some people want to know how someone is doing because they genuinely care. Randy's just being alive is a miracle in itself and his recovery is an even bigger miracle (if miracles have levels of greatness) that we should celebrate and for which we should thank God! I think that it would be a good idea to ask it he wants to be interviewed. If not, then the press should respect his wishes. If he does agree, then the press should be aware of what medical crisis he had endured and ask questions with sympathy and care, the way you do Anderson.
Posted By Anonymous Ann - Newton, IA : 3:03 PM ET
I am so glad there are miracles out there. I had been wondering how he was doing. With all the bad going on in this world, it is good to know there are wonderful stories out there.
Posted By Anonymous TracyLyn, Detroit, MI : 3:19 PM ET
Lets all pray for Randys full recovery,
These people that operate these mines
need to be held accountable for all
dangers and saffety violations throught
out the World. Randy to you are hats are off and our hearts are open, God bless you and your family and all your miner friend's. Its time for Pres Bush to step up to the plate and get these mines inspected on a daily and weekly
basis and most of all get these federal
miner inspectors back in there doing there inspections, and give them power
to do ther jobs, or shut these mines down!!!
Posted By Anonymous Larry Alexander Fairbanks Alaska : 4:33 PM ET
I find it sad that neither you nor the McCloys seem to care what has happened to the families of the other men. While Anna McCloy is making plans for Disneyworld and basking in the media spotlight, fame and fortune, David Lewis's widow is left with three little girls to raise on her own and a gravesite to visit, as are the families of the other dead miners. While much has been made of Randy being the youngest miner, David was only two years older. Other miners left widows with young children. They certainly won't have the financial opportunities that Anna McCloy will have. What will happen to them? It is a disgrace that they have been forgotten. Please tell us how they're doing. It's good to hear that Randy is doing well. But he was not the only miner in the Sago mine and his is not the only interesting story to tell.
Posted By Anonymous Jane, Chicago, Illinois : 5:04 PM ET
I was up with the flu watching your coverage of the tragedy that night so I experienced the short lived high and the devastating low right along with you. Thank you for brining us good news.

Now if only the federal authorities would question the mine rescuers that so desperatley want to help improve mine safety and rescue!
Posted By Anonymous Sarah, Gainesville, FL : 5:05 PM ET
While I am so happy to hear of Mr. McCloy's progress, I am concerning of the misunderstanding of the public who thinks he "is recovered" or "will fully recover." It certainly would be wonderful to hear in the future that Randy is who he once was but unfortunately, brain injury does change different aspects of one's personality, thought process, emotions, judgment, memory, etc. No two brain injuries are alike. The public and the press must understand that Mr. McCloy will always be in recovery, he may have to re-learn to do the simplest of things and may or may not be able to ever recover some functions and may have difficulties the rest of his life.

Certainly the love, support and strength of his wife, family and friends will help in this recovery process. That is important especially at the beginning. I hope that support continues the rest of his life as he will need it. I give utmost praise to his wife who at such a young age displays a maturity and love beyond her years. I believe she has the strength to see her husband and family through this situation as it will be with her the rest of their lives.

I write in this manner because I have a family member who acquired a traumatic brain injury many years ago. While he has greatly improved, he does and always will have physical, emotional and mental difficulties. He lost his wife and friends to their inability to understand that he is different and cannot act and think like they do or like he used to.

I do not write this way to be negative. Often times, we see someone walk out of a hospital and think they are now okay. But with brain injury, what we have come to call "the silent epidemic," it is never over and done with -- it is always there. We must remember this if we are to be able to better understand the person we see in a store, on the street, or at work who acts a little different than we do, who cannot think as quickly as we do. They too could have a brain injury.

I felt it was important to try to explain brain injury as it is difficult to define and even more difficult to understand.

My heart goes out to Mr. McCloy and his family. May you always be there for one another.
Posted By Anonymous Jo Anne, Hamilton, NJ : 5:25 PM ET
This is a true miracle. I hope Randy and his family will be able to deal with all the media and attention and to not forget that they are blessed, no matter how much the attention gets to them.
Posted By Anonymous Megan Bennett, Douglas Georgia : 6:00 PM ET
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