The sole survivor of the mining disaster is a quiet, religious man who risked the dangers of working underground -- even though he is a licensed electrician -- to earn more money for his family.
Randal McCloy Jr., 27, "was looking to get out" after working in the mine for three years, said his wife, Anna. "It was too dangerous."
McCloy remained in critical condition Wednesday but was able to squeeze his wife's hand from his bed at West Virginia University's Ruby Memorial Hospital, Dr. Lawrence Roberts said at a briefing.
"Having been laying still for so many hours and being poorly hydrated for that period of time has resulted in some kidney dysfunction," Roberts said. "We assume that will be a temporary phenomenon while the kidneys recover."
His blood pressure, his heart rate and other laboratory tests "seem relatively normal," he added.
McCloy was undergoing dialysis treatment, and doctors were trying to inflate a collapsed lung. He was sedated to prevent him from removing a tube inserted in his throat to ease his breathing.
Because of the tube, McCloy cannot talk, but he is responding to his wife with facial expressions and by squeezing her hand, Roberts said.
McCloy's lung is expanding, but Roberts was unsure when the breathing tube may be removed, although he expected to reduce the sedation today.
Lila Muncy, McCloy's younger sister, had said that before her brother went into the mine each day, he told his wife, "God is with you."
The couple have a 4-year-old son, Randal III, and a 1-year-old daughter, Isabel.
Pat Miles, McCloy's aunt, described her nephew as a quiet man except around family. "He's a very loving father," Miles said. "He took care of his kids. He took care of his wife."