Sixteen days after the explosion at the Sago mine outside of Buckhannon, W.V. and federal investigators have still not been able to gain access to the mine. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) says the company is still pumping water out of the mine, and it could be another three to four days before investigators get inside. Once they do enter the mine, they will look for evidence into what caused the explosion that killed 12 miners and nearly killed Randal McCloy.
McCloy has been upgraded to serious condition at West Virginia University Hospital, where doctors say there are signs he is starting to come out of his coma. Today, Dr. Julian Bailes said to his knowledge, no one else has ever survived such a lengthy exposure to carbon monoxide. He may have avoided brain damage, but doctors won't be sure until he awakens more fully.
The question many people have is whether McCloy was able to find fresh air that allowed him to live longer than his co-workers. Family members have suggested the other miners may have given McCloy their oxygen, since he was the youngest of them all with two small children. We may not know the truth unless McCloy himself fully awakens and tells us what the miners went through more than two miles into the Sago mine.
Also today, the head of MSHA announced he is appointing an MSHA veteran to head an internal investigation into how MSHA performed during and after the disaster. George Fesak will look at how quickly the feds responded to the mine disaster.
The president and CEO of International Coal Group, Ben Hatfield, told NBC News last week that the first calls to MSHA resulted in voicemails and home phones went unanswered. The accident happened at 6:31 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 2, a federal holiday. Rescue teams did not enter the mine until 11 hours later - though federal, state, and company officials have all said the teams could not rush to enter the mine given the poisonous levels of gasses.