Harry Whittington, shot in face by Dick Cheney, dies at 95
Harry Whittington, the Texas attorney who survived when then-Vice President Dick Cheney was shot in the face in a hunting accident in 2006, has died at the age of 95.
Whittington died early Saturday morning at his home in Austin, Texas, his wife, Mercedes Baker Whittington, told the New York Times.
Whittington, a longtime Republican supporter, attracted worldwide attention after he was sprayed with more than 200 bullets from Cheney’s shotgun while on a February 11, 2006 quail hunt at a private ranch in South Texas. Cheney was chasing a quail in flight when he accidentally shot his friend. With wounds to his face, neck and torso, the 78-year-old later suffered a heart attack and collapsed lung in hospital, where he spent a week.
Cheney’s blip coincided with falling approval ratings for President George W. Bush’s administration, which was grappling with an escalating war in Iraq and leaks about a domestic wiretapping program run 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, calling it “one of the worst days of my life” in an interview with Fox News.
“I’m the guy who pulls the trigger and shoots at my friend,” the vice president said in an interview. “You can’t blame anyone.”
According to police, Whittington was looking for a downed quail about 30 yards away when Cheney turned to shoot a bird that was flying towards him.
After being treated by Cheney Secret Service agents, Whittington was taken to a hospital in Kingsville, Texas, and then flown to a hospital in Corpus Christi.
Whittington later apologized for his role as a victim.
“My family and I deeply regret what Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through over the past week,” he said in a statement upon discharge from the hospital. “We send them our love and respect as they deal with situations far more serious than what we had this week.”
Whittington left the hospital with about 30 pellets still in his body, including one near his heart and one in his eye socket, as doctors felt their removal was too risky.
The hunting accident provided fodder for comedians.
“I think Cheney’s starting to lose his composure,” Jay Leno said of his standup routine. “After he shot the guy, he yelled, ‘Anyone else want to outlaw home wiretapping?'”
Even President Bush managed to find humor on the matter when he met with the US Military Academy’s men’s rifle team at the White House in 2005.
“If you happen to be walking around and meet the vice president, you can give him a few pointers,” he said.
Whittington was born on March 3, 1927 in Henderson, Texas, about 140 miles from Dallas. His father owned a haberdashery and a cotton gin, both of which he lost during the Great Depression, according to a 2010 interview he gave to the Washington Post.
After graduating from the University of Texas with a law degree in 1950, Whittington practiced law in Austin and invested in commercial real estate in the state capital. He also snubbed his family’s Democratic allegiance by supporting Republican candidates and leading John Tower’s successful run for a Senate seat in 1961. Whittington also worked on George HW Bush’s unsuccessful campaign for the US Senate in 1964.
His exposure to Republican leaders earned him a job in the state Department of Corrections from 1979 to 1985. During this time, he held public hearings on the system’s drug scandals, nepotism, unsolicited contracts, and prisoner disciplining. He was also a member of the Texas Funeral Service Commission and chairman of the board of directors of the state Treasury.
Whittington and his wife had four daughters.
“We all take risks in everything we do and pursue,” Whittington said in 2006. “And no matter how experienced, careful and committed we are, accidents do and will happen.”
https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2023-02-06/harry-whittington-shot-in-face-by-v-p-dick-cheney-in-hunting-accident-dies-at-95 Harry Whittington, shot in face by Dick Cheney, dies at 95