RANDY'S TRAGIC STORY

Published on: January 11, 2006

By ALEXANDER HITCHEN

The National Enquirer this week publishes on the cover of its print edition a photograph of the sole survivor of the Sago mine disaster in hospital as he recovers from his injuries.

Randy McCloy Jr. who was pulled out of the mine 42 hours after the January 2 blast, was photographed three days later at the Ruby Memorial Hospital, West Virginia.

His brother Matthew took the photograph and gave it to The National Enquirer for publication in a bid to raise awareness of serious safety issues at the West Virginia mine.

Matthew said Randy had told him he planned to quit the mine after predicting disaster shortly before it struck.

"Randy knew the mine was dangerous," Matthew tells this week's National Enquirer.

Randy's condition improved, as he is breathing on his own and appears to be coming out of his coma. "We consider him, probably best described, in a light coma," a neurosurgeon who is treating him said on Jan. 18. He is "opening his eyes, he has purposeful movement, he is responding to his family in slight ways." Doctors hope to be able to move Randy, 26, to a rehabilitation hospital within two weeks.

In his bombshell interview, Matthew said his brother, who had been a miner for three years, prevented a disaster just days before Sago closed for the holidays.

Matthew told The National Enquirer: "Randy told me he had to shut down his equipment because he discovered a pocket of methane gas in the tunnel roof. A spark would have caused an explosion and many people would have been killed. He let the company know about it.

"But I can't understand why the company gave the all-clear for the miners to work again in that area when the holidays started again... I hope federal investigators get to the truth."

Since 2004, Sago has been slapped with 276 safety violations. The injury rate at Sago is three times the national average and the mine was cited 16 times in 2005 by the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration for unsafe conditions that could have caused fires or explosions.

Matthew, 25, a mechanic and a father of two, said he photographed Randy in hospital on January 5 because "the photo needs to shock America into realizing what these miners go through."