EXCLUSIVE:Transcript of Interview with Anna McCloy and Russell Biundo, M.D.
Posted 3/1/2006 05:53 PM
West Virginia Media's April Kaull's interview with the wife and doctor of the lone survivor from the Sago Mine Disaster.
Randy McCloy’s Wife
Tell me about Randal McCloy. We know he likes heavy metal music, we've seen a few photos. Talk to me about the man you know as a husband and father.
“He’s a good daddy, a good husband.”
“He’s an outdoors person. He loves to be outdoors. He’s not the kind of person who likes to sit down. He’s antsy.”
“He’s always put me and the kids before him.”
Let's talk about Randy the coal miner. How did he feel about working in the mines?
“It was just a job. It was just a job to him. It wasn’t something he liked or enjoyed.”
“Mining wasn’t for him.”
“He wasn’t really sure what yet. He’s just the type of person that. You know, he’s set goals, he’d finish that set of goals, then it would be more goals. He was never done.”
Describe that morning on January 2nd as Randy prepared to go to work at Sago.
“Randy would get up, turn the alarm off. Wash his face, brush his teeth.”
“He’d kiss the babies, tell them Daddy loves them, God loves them and see he’d see them when he got home. Then I would go to the door.”
“Kiss me and say love you bunches, God loves you too. I’ll be home later. And then he would just go out the door. And I’d wait until I could see the lights anymore.”
Fast forward to the moment you learned your husband was one of miners trapped underground. How did you gelt the news? How did you react?
“Someone come knocking at my door. When I saw his face, I knew something was wrong.”
“I went hysterical because I knew that something was wrong.”
What was it like for you as you waited for word with the other families?
“Excruciating. I’ve never been put through anything like this in my life.”
“I’ve had nightmares before about what if something happened to him.. .and I just wanted to wake up.”
We all know about the miscommunication issue... what was that like?
“That was about 11:30 when they took Randy out. I didn’t know that that was Randy until about 3 o’clock in the morning. I was not told until 3 o’clock that it was Randy.”
When did you know Randy was the miner taken out in the ambulance to the hospital?
“From the time that they announced that they was all alive to three o’clock, I believed that my husband was going to walk out of there perfectly fine.”
“THEN they say. We have one alive. Randal L. McCloy Jr. and I’m thinking What?”
“My nephew had to take me out of the church because I just froze.”
When you finally learned that Randy was the only one pulled out alive... can you explain the emotions? It must have been so hard for you... immense relief... and grief for the other families.
“Yeah, I was angry. I mean I’m happy because he’s alive, I was also upset because the others were dead. But I was angry, because they led me to believe that my husband was perfectly fine. He was coming out of there. I was going to hug him. He was going to talk to me. I wasn’t ready for this.”
Randy's been called the miracle miner... that's what doctors call Randy's recovery and rehab. What's it been like? Take us through an average day.
“It’s exactly that. It’s a miracle.”
“He was meant to be here for a purpose. There’s a purpose for this man.”
“The first thing I told him… I told him Randy I’m here and I love you.”
“It’s just amazing to carry on a conversation with him and to be able to say to him. I love you and he says I love you too.”
How is he doing physically? Emotionally?
“Well, I’m afraid that he might go through a depression and get depressed and it might slow him down in his therapy and doing as well.”
“When I see the progress every day I want to keep that going. Because the faster he does this, the faster he’s home to me and the kids and we get back to our regular normal life, which will never be normal but I still want some of that back.”
Does Randy remember any of what happened? What has he said about the explosion... and the hours waiting to be rescued?
“Um, bits and pieces I’d say.”
Does a part of you hope that he won't remember?
“Yeah, I don’t initiate it. If he starts talking, I listen. And I just keep reassuring him that he’s ok, that he’s fine.”
“I received a letter through the mail from an inspector but I never addressed it. I never even paid any attention to it. I threw it to the side, like you’re not talking to him right now and that’s going to be awhile.”
“Yea, I do, because he’s been through enough in his life to not have to deal with this too. He doesn’t need this on him right now. And I hope he does forget.”
“I’m solely focused on what’s happening in that room.”
“I don’t have newspapers around him, the news, anything. Everything is positive.”
“They contact us just to make sure I’m ok, if I need something. Just to make sure there’s something that I need or want, or can help me with.”
This is really the first time you've talked publicly... why now?
“I wanted something positive, to be able to come out and say something positive that he’s doing, progressing the way that he is. And to let everybody know that we care.”
“Every time I went outside there was tons of news people asking Anna can you talk to us.”
“So it got to the point that I hid in the church. I would even come out.”
We hear about his progress... moving, eating, talking in phrases. Why haven't we seen or heard from him yet?
“Hopefully. He can talk and answer appropriately now. But I don’t want it rushed. I want him to be able to get through this and deal with this later. It’ll come to that point but I’m not going to rush it, and I’m not going to let it be rushed.”
What have you said to your kids about all of this?
“When she’s around she hollers Dad, Dad. And I put her up and she can touch him.”
“My son’s like Daddy’s getting better.”
“Or he’ll say Booger… that’s what we call him at home… listen to your mommy. He says that stuff.”
How do see the future, now?... How have your expectations, goals changed since the explosion?
“It’s changed our lives completely. We’ll never have that normalcy again.”
What do you hope for the future of coal mining in West Virginia?
“Yea, I’m angry, that it took this to get to this where the safety is now. I’m angry. I’m relieved that they’re doing something now, but it shouldn’t have took a tragedy like this to make it that.”
How do you feel about the support you received from state leaders?
“West Virginia is a family and he’s (Governor Manchin) made me realize that through what he does. He cares, he’s not just out there for politics or votes. He’s out there because he cares, and he’s made me realize that there are still people out there who care.”
What about the rescuers and the people of West Virginia? If Randy was sitting here with you, what would he want them to know?
“Just probably basically tell them not to take live for granted. Because as he told me, he said that you never realize how precious life is until you think you will have it no longer. And that’s what he told me.
“When did he say that?”
Dr. Russell Biundo
Randy McCloy’s Doctor
How’s Randy doing?
“He’s progressed amazingly well. I think he’s shocked almost everyone who’s been involved in his care. And he continues to shock all of us. His recovery has been unparalleled. We’ve never seen anyone with that degree of brain injury recover so quickly.”
Can you give me specifics? What things are you seeing from him that are so shocking and amazing?
“First and foremost, he’s able to speak. He’s able to articulate.”
“His kidney function has improved back to normal. His respiratory status is normal. His breathing tube has been removed.”
“Is he having to relearn how to do simple things? Or is that part of memory that he’s kept?
“He has difficulty maintaining a full conversation like you and I are, but he’s moving in that direction. For example, I’ll walk into the room and I’ll say ‘hi Randy’, and he’ll say ‘hi Dr. B’.”
“He’s able to remember things from a day to day basis. That’s important because he’s starting to form memory, which he couldn’t do before.”
“This is like a new life for him. It’s like a renaissance. It’s like a resurrection basically. He’s a new person, a different person. The way he’s thinking now, the new memories he’s forming.”
“Some of the old memory. I’m not certain how much he remembers. It’s difficult to tell at this point, especially in regard to the accident and all that. We’re not clear on that.”
What about physical improvement? You said kidney function, I’m assuming the feeding tube is out and he’s eating on his own?
“He’s able to grab a French fry for example and feed himself. He just started doing that. Just.”
Has he been able to get up and walk or move around and be mobile?
“His left side function has remarkably improved. He’ll rub his head, eyes, things you normally do. His right side function is returning, especially in the last few days.”
How can you explain, CAN you explain his recovery process?
“No, I can’t explain it. I can’t explain it. We’ve been battling our heads back and forth, to figure out how this has happened, trying to look for scientific causes. I mean, I think by the grace of God. I don’t see any specific scientific reason how all of a sudden you have such terrible brain damage with no oxygen for 43 hours.”
Are there other physicians who are now looking at his case? Is he becoming a case study?
“As best as we know, there’s not been one person that’s ever survived an incident where they’ve been deprived of oxygen with severe carbon monoxide poisoning for 43 hours as was Randy’s case.”
“He has shown astonishing results. He continues to be motivated. He has a great sense of humor. He’ll smile and joke. For example he’ll call me Frankenstein.”
How long do you think he’ll be at Health South, or a rehab facility like it?
“I think he’ll be with us for at least another few months.”
Copyright 2006 West Virginia Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.