Sago Mine Tragedy: Sole Survivor Still in Critical Condition

Jan. 5, 2006
As loved ones mourn the loss of the 12 miners who died after the Sago Mine explosion, and flags at state buildings in West Virginia fly at half-staff, the sole survivor of the explosion, 26-year-old Randal McCloy Jr., is hanging on.

After being trapped in the mine for 41 hours, McCloy reportedly is in critical but stable condition at a Morgantown, W.Va., hospital.

He suffered from dehydration, kidney dysfunction and a collapsed lung after being rescued from the mine. Doctors since have inflated the collapsed lung, according to reports.

Of concern to doctors is that the lack of oxygen in the mine has caused "anoxic" injuries to McCloy's brain, which has affected several of his vital organs.

McCloy cannot speak because of a breathing tube in his throat, but he reportedly has responded to his wife, Anna, with facial expressions and by squeezing her hand.

Anna McCloy said that her husband wanted to get out of mining because he believed it was too dangerous but he continued working there to support his family.

International Coal Group Creates Fund for Miners' Families

International Coal Group Inc., which owns the Sago Mine in Upshur County, W. Va., has released the names of the miners who died as a result of the Jan. 2 mine explosion.

Their names, along with their job title and years of mining experience, are:

  • Terry Helms Fire boss/mine examiner, 29 years of mining experience
  • Martin Toler Jr. Section foreman, 32 years
  • Alva M. Bennett Continuous miner operator, 29 years
  • Fred Ware Continuous miner operator, 37 years
  • Jesse Jones Roof bolter operator, 16 years
  • Dave Lewis Roof bolter operator, 1 year, 8 months
  • Jerry Groves Roof bolter operator, 28 years
  • Tom Anderson Shuttle car operator, 10 years
  • George Hamner Jr. Shuttle car operator, 26 years
  • James Bennett Shuttle car operator, 25 years
  • Marshall Winans Scoop operator, 23 years
  • Jackie Weaver Section electrician, 26 years

International Coal Group has created a fund to provide financial support to the families of the 12 miners who died after a Jan. 2 explosion. The company will contribute $2 million to the fund, International Coal Group said in a statement.

"A terrible tragedy has occurred and everyone at International Coal Group shares the grief of the families of the 12 miners who lost their lives despite the best efforts of our company, Gov. Joe Manchin and the rescue teams," company Chairman Wilbur Ross said. "My heart goes out to those families. I personally understand their trauma, since I lost my own father when I was a teenager and my widowed mother was left with three children, the youngest of whom was 8 years old. I offer these families my heartfelt sympathy and prayers."

International Coal Group was formed when Ross, a New York financier, led a group that bought many of the assets of Horizon Natural Resources in a bankruptcy auction. International Coal Group has owned the Sago Mine since November.

International Coal Group President and CEO Ben Hatfield, who had to face outraged relatives after they mistakenly were told that 12 miners had survived the blast, called the Sago Mine tragedy "the most tragic period of my life."

"No amount of explanation can replace a loved one, nor can the Sago Mine Fund, but our fervent hope is this will help," Hatfield said. " … We regard our miners as our extended family and hope that many people will express their sorrow by contributing to the fund."

To contribute to the fund, call (212) 826-2174.

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