Recording artist Hank Williams Jr. and coal miner Randal McCloy Jr. -- a fan of Williams' music -- became connected through music and tragedy.
"You have to understand -- Hank Williams Jr. -- this story is very heartfelt to him," Williams' publicist Kirt Webster said Monday.
Webster was referring to McCloy's struggle for life after an explosion Jan. 2 in Sago Mine No. 1 in Upshur County. McCloy, 26, who is at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virigina, received carbon-monoxide poisoning during the nearly 42 hours he was trapped after the blast. The other 12 miners trapped with him after the explosion died.
Williams, 56, was hospitalized after he "fell off a mountain" in 1974, Webster said. Because McCloy's condition hits home with Williams, he has spoken with the family, has sent gifts and visited McCloy at the hospital Wednesday, Webster said.
On Monday, McCloy remained in critical condition, said Bill Case, WVU Hospitals spokesman. "There are no major improvements to report," Case said.
However, McCloy is breathing a little better on his own, with less assistance from a ventilator, and is moving his arms and limbs in response to negative stimulus, he said.
McCloy's vital signs are stable, and doctors are monitoring and evaluating a fever, said Dr. Larry Roberts, director of WVU's Jon Michael Moore Trauma Center. Hemodialysis -- blood cleansing -- is continuing.
He remains in a medically induced coma.
McCloy, of Simpson, was set to begin physical therapy Monday, his doctors said Monday morning. Therapy includes moving McCloy's arms and legs for him, Case said.
Williams suffered a similar medical emergency, Webster said.
"When (Williams) fell off a mountain many years ago, his skull was cracked in half, one eye fell out of its socket, and he was in the hospital much in the state as Randal is in. We did not know if he was going to live," Webster said. "So when I called Hank at home and told him the news (of McCloy), he got very emotional," Webster said. "That's why McCloy's story brings it home."
Williams could not be reached for comment Monday, as he was on a field trip with his children, Webster said.
McCloy was first treated at St. Joseph's Hospital in Buckhannon before being taken to Ruby Memorial Hospital.
He had a few days of hyperbaric oxygen treatment at Allegheny General Hospital last week, and was returned to Ruby Memorial Hospital on Saturday, according to WVU officials.
Since McCloy's accident, Williams learned that McCloy is a fan, and has sent flowers and gifts to the family, Webster said.
Williams' gifts included CDs, Tshirts, a tour jacket and other Hank Williams Jr. merchandise, Webster said. Williams has spoken with family members as well, Webster said.