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LinasK
03-30-2006, 11:01 PM
Survivor of Sago Mine Disaster Gives Thanks for 'Thoughts and Prayers' During His Recovery

By VICKI SMITH



MORGANTOWN, W.Va. Mar 30, 2006 (AP) Sago Mine survivor Randal McCloy Jr., looking thin and stiff but walking on his own, offered his gratitude Thursday as he was released from a hospital after almost three months.

"I'd just like to thank everybody for their thoughts and prayers" McCloy said softly, wearing a ball cap and a racing-team jacket at a morning news conference. He paused, then added with a weak smile, "I believe that's it."

His doctors say they can't explain why McCloy, who was trapped underground for more than 40 hours after the Jan. 2 mine explosion, survived the carbon monoxide exposure while all 12 other miners with him died. Medical crews at the mine and the doctors who first treated him have said McCloy, too, was close to death.

"It's basically almost like he was resurrected," said Dr. Russell Biundo, medical director at HealthSouth Mountainview Regional Rehabilitation Hospital, speaking at the news conference Thursday.

Gov. Joe Manchin was also talking about miracles as he handed McCloy a green street sign reading: "Miracle Road," for the renamed rural road leading to the family's home in Simpson.

"Randy is unbelievable how he has come through this ordeal," Manchin said. "Today, I'm happy to say that the time has finally come for Randy to return home."

Randal McCloy told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday that he had "no explanation of how I escaped it and survived."

After the explosion, which the mine's owner says was caused by a lightning strike, some people speculated McCloy survived because he was deeper in the mine, farther from the bad air. He said he wasn't.

Nor does he believe a crushed lung limited the carbon monoxide he inhaled. If he'd been in pain, he figures, he'd have inhaled even more.

McCloy's memories of the 41 hours underground are "not much really," just fragmented images he'd rather forget. When he thinks of his fallen friends, he pictures them elsewhere.

"I try to leave out all the gory details and stuff like that because I don't like to look at them in that light and that way," he said. "I just like to picture them saved and in heaven, stuff like that.

"That's really the best way you can remember somebody."

Someday, he'll start to think about work again. He's considering a vocational school, maybe electronics. He won't be going back underground.

"No, I done learned my lesson," he said. "The hard way."

In a few months, the McCloys are planning a family trip to Disney World, but for now they're looking forward to peace.

"It'll be a vacation just getting home," said Anna McCloy, who said she would fire up the oven for the first time in three months to make a big pan of lasagna. more at link:http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory?id=1786162&page=3