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Harry Whittington, shot by Cheney in hunting mishap, dies at 95

David Henry, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

Harry Whittington, the attorney from Texas who survived a hunting accident in 2006 when then-US Vice President Dick Cheney shot him in the face while tracking a passing bird, has died. He was 95.

He died early Saturday morning at home, the New York Times reported, citing his wife.

A longtime Republican supporter, Whittington attracted global attention after he was sprayed with more than 200 pellets from Cheney’s shotgun during a quail hunt on a private ranch in south Texas on Feb. 11, 2006. With wounds to the face, neck and torso, the 78-year-old later suffered a heart attack and a collapsed lung in the hospital, where he spent a week.

Cheney’s gaffe coincided with declining approval ratings for President George W. Bush’s administration, as it wrestled with an escalating war in Iraq and leaks about a domestic eavesdropping program carried out by the National Security Agency.

The damage to Cheney’s image was compounded by a delay in commenting on the shooting. Four days passed before he spoke publicly about the accident, citing it as “one of the worst days of my life” in an interview with Fox News.

“I’m the guy who pulled the trigger and shot my friend,” the vice president, then 65, said in the interview. “You can’t blame anybody else.”


The incident occurred when Cheney, accompanied by then-U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein Pamela Willeford, turned to shoot a bird that had flown toward Whittington, who was looking for a downed quail about 30 yards away, according to police.

After receiving treatment from Cheney’s Secret Service agents, Whittington was taken to a hospital in Kingsville, Texas. Doctors decided his injuries were severe enough to transport him by helicopter to a hospital in Corpus Christi.

Whittington later offered an apology for his role as the victim.

“My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week,” he said in a statement when he was released from the hospital. “We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had this week.”


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