Harry Whittington, the man who former Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot while they were hunting quail on a Texas ranch 17 years ago, has died. He was 95.
Whittington died at his home Saturday in Austin, family friend Karl Rove said Monday.
Before Whittington was thrust into the national spotlight after the accidental shooting, the attorney was long known for helping build the Republican Party in Texas into the dominant political force it is today and for being the man governors went to when they needed to clean up troubled state agencies.
Rove, an influential Republican strategist and former adviser to former President George W. Bush, said Whittington was “a man of enormous integrity and deep compassion” who was called on by leaders for “important tasks.”
Whittington and others were hunting with Cheney on the sprawling Armstrong Ranch in South Texas on Feb. 11, 2006, when Cheney, while aiming for a bird, struck Whittington, who was 78 at the time. The accident wasn’t publicly reported until the next day when the ranch owner called the local newspaper — the Corpus Christi Caller-Times — and told the paper what had happened.
Whittington was sprayed with birdshot pellets to his face, neck and chest and suffered a minor heart attack due to a pellet near his heart. When he left the hospital about a week after the accident, he said “accidents do and will happen,” and apologized to Cheney, saying he was “deeply sorry for everything” Cheney and his family had to deal with after the incident.
Cheney was criticized for breaking a cardinal rule of hunting — that someone holding a gun should make sure they know what they are firing at before pulling the trigger — and for not immediately going public with what happened.