Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: Trapped miners gave their oxygen to one of their number, a young father, who survived.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, 2006]
The lone survivor, Randal McCloy, was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning and organ damage. His family elected for him to receive hyperbaric therapy, the same treatment given to scuba divers suffering from the bends: Patients breathe
While this 26-year-old father of two struggled to recover, speculation regarding the possible reasons for his being the only survivor of this mining disaster remained unanswered. One theory asserted the other miners, knowing that all would perish otherwise, shared oxygen from their self-rescuers with McCloy:
[The Daily Telegraph, 2006]Final messages in the form of scribbled notes to loved ones were found on some of the miners, but none of their contents (as released to the media) made mention of oxygen being donated to McCloy.
The miner's father, Randal McCloy Sr, said that he believed "in his heart" that his son's mostly
[Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2006]
Ms. McCloy [Randal McCloy's wife] said she would not be surprised to learn, as friends and family have begun to speculate, that his fellow miners sacrificed some of their oxygen supply to save him when they were trapped underground together following an explosion Monday.
"I figure they thought of Randy as one of their sons and wanted to take care of him," she said.
Several months after the accident, when Randal McCloy was sufficiently recovered to release a statement, the story he told was the opposite of the one presented above: At least four of the miners' air packs did not function, so McCloy shared his own rescuer with another miner, and the miners trapped with him shared theirs with the other three men whose own devices did not work:
The air packs — referred to as "rescuers"The miners did not all share their air packs with Randal McCloy because he was a young father in need of help
"There were not enough rescuers to go around," McCloy said. He said he shared his air pack with miner Jerry Groves, and his co-workers did the same with the three other men whose devices were not functioning.
Finally, resigned to their fate, the men recited a "sinner's prayer," scrawled farewell notes to their loved ones, and succumbed, some as if drifting off to sleep.
Barbara "miner difference" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 April 2006
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