April 17, 2006 12:00 PM

When Randal McCloy Jr. spoke of hunting and fishing during nine weeks of rehab at a Morgantown, W.Va., hospital, the prospect of his resuming those beloved hobbies seemed, at times, remote. Yet when McCloy—the lone survivor of a Jan. 2 blast at the Sago Mine that killed 12 men—came home March 30, he reached for his bow and fired it “with assistance,” says his mother, Tammy Flint. “He’ll think of ways he can still do what he wants.”

Indeed. Walking, talking and lucid, McCloy—pulled from the mine near death after inhaling carbon monoxide for 41 hours—has made an “unprecedented” recovery, says neurosurgeon Julian Bailes, one of McCloy’s doctors. McCloy, who needs continued rehab, has vision damage and trouble balancing and recalling names. What he hasn’t forgotten: the deaths of his fellow miners, a subject he hasn’t discussed publicly so far. “Things happened that I’d rather I didn’t see,” McCloy told Today’s Matt Lauer March 30. “But I did.”

By nature shy, McCloy is adjusting to his fame and is grateful for supportive letters as well as assistance from funds set up by the International Coal Group and others. His wife, Anna, 25, also just bought her husband his dream car—a new red Mustang for his 27th birthday. But as he greeted well-wishers, McCloy also savored the simple pleasures: dining on pinto beans, kicking back in his recliner and enjoying the antics of children Randal, 4, and Isabel, 17 months. “By the end of the day,” says stepfather Tim Flint, “Randy was pooped.”

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