• This is a partial transcript from "Your World with Neil Cavuto," January 5, 2006, that was edited for clarity.

    NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The sole survivor of a mining disaster in West Virginia remains in a coma. Doctors say they are somewhat encouraged by his progress. Randal McCloy Jr. was able to squeeze the hand of his wife, Anna. But doctors say it may only be a reflex, nothing more, that his condition is still critical.

    McCloy now is being moved to a Pittsburgh hospital for oxygen treatment. That's all we are being told. McCloy survived, while 12 other miners perished.

    Now, initially, family members were told most of the miners had survived, only to have their hopes dashed a few hours later.

    On Wednesday, the CEO of International Coal Group (ICO) apologized, saying that he understood their grief, anger and incredible pain.


    BEN HATFIELD, PRESIDENT & CEO, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP: Just as we did, they're clinging to hope. And, so, they needed good information. And we were trying to get them good information. And, in the process of being cautious, we allowed the jubilation to go on longer than it should have. And that is just all I can say about it.


    CAVUTO: All right. Now, that is the man who runs the company.

    Now his boss, the guy who owns the company, in rare chat, Wilbur Ross. He is the chairman of W.L. Ross & Company. His International Coal Group is the parent company of the Sago Mine in question.

    Wilbur, good to have you.


    CAVUTO: Been a hellacious week, I would imagine.

    ROSS: Been the worst week of my life.

    CAVUTO: Yes.

    Let's try to understand when you acquired this particular company, the Sago Mine in question. It was actually about seven weeks ago.

    ROSS: Yes.

    International Coal Group consummated the acquisition on the 18th of November, 2005.

    CAVUTO: And you're known as sort of a distressed investigator. You buy properties others avoid. You spruce them up. They improve. Your critics are claiming that they improve because you cut on things like safety.

    ROSS: That's totally fallacious.

    You know that vice president for safety of the United Steelworkers of America has publicly stated, in an Associated Press interview, that we greatly improved the safety conditions at every single one of the steel company that we bought.

    CAVUTO: Including LTV Steel, which was a bankrupt company.

    ROSS: Including LTV.

    And, in fact, we incorporated it into the incentive pay system that we had for both the blue-collar and white-collar workers.

    CAVUTO: So, when it comes to safety, whether you're taking over steel companies or coal companies, have you ever pinched?

    ROSS: No.

    We have never declined one penny's worth of requests from management for either P&L expenditure for safety expense or for capital expenditure for safety purposes. And, in fact, International Coal Group, on the 19th of September, 2005, was awarded the Sentinels of Safety Award by the Mine Safety Health Administration of the Department of Labor. That's the most important award for safety in the entire mining industry.

    CAVUTO: Now, Wilbur, as you know, your company has been criticized for the way it released information, first having people believe that 12 of the miners were alive, and then having to state, some hours later, no, they're not; they're dead.

    ROSS: Well, we did not make the initial release. That was leaked out without authorization by somebody who had been in the control center.

    The news had come from them in the mines from the rescue team, who you can appreciate -- these fellows were two miles under earth, under heavy oxygen masks, and communicating over a radio to the command center. The instructions in the command center had been that nobody was to release anything. Our process heretofore had always been and was meant to be that Ben Hatfield, our CEO, would go break whatever the news was to the families in the church, and then we would brief the media.

    Someone was so excited about the news that he thought he had heard that he ran out, apparently communicated with the media and with the people in the church.

    CAVUTO: Do you have any qualms with the way Ben Hatfield handled this whole thing?

    ROSS: Well, I think that, in retrospect, it would have been better if they could have gotten the hard news a lot sooner. And, as you know, Ben has apologized.

    And, on behalf of the company, I apologize for the delay.

    CAVUTO: So, you wouldn't fire him or do anything?

    ROSS: Fire him? No, I wouldn't. I mean, you have to put it in context. This man had been up for 36 hours straight, under enormous pressure, using his level-best efforts to get these workers out safely, and, then, every two hours, being cross-examined by the media. That's the most grueling kind of environment I can imagine.

    CAVUTO: Well, you saw the media coverage. What did you think?

    ROSS: Well, the media were doing their job.

    But the problem is, that kind of extensive coverage intensifies the pressure on the families. You saw the families who were being interviewed. It intensified the pressure on the management of the company.

    CAVUTO: But, when the governor of the state, West Virginia's governor, says, yes, I'm hearing these guys are alive, is the media to blame for that? Is the governor to blame for that? Is everybody to blame?