Hunter \'very stable\' after Cheney shooting mistake (feb 13 2006)


Staff member
Hunter 'very stable' after Cheney shooting mistake
Last Updated Mon, 13 Feb 2006 13:38:35 EST
CBC News

A hunting companion of d**k Cheney was doing well in hospital on Monday after the U.S. vice-president accidentally sprayed him with shotgun pellets during a weekend quail shoot in south Texas.

Harry Whittington "rested well" overnight in the trauma intensive-care unit of Christus Spohn Hospital (Memorial), hospital administrator Peter Banko said in a morning news conference.

He said Whittington, a 78-year-old lawyer from Austin, was in "very stable" condition.

Cheney — who was carrying a 28-gauge shotgun — sprayed Whittington with shots late Saturday afternoon at the Armstrong Ranch.

"It's not critical. It's not serious," Banko said.

"I don't know how much spray he has got," he said. "My understanding from the physicians is that after you get peppered, sometimes they need to do exploratory surgeries if it gets lodged in a little deeper."

Other times, added Banko, only tweezers are needed to remove the pellets.

Whittington was expected to be released from hospital later Monday.

Police officials said no charges had been filed.

Questions were being raised about why it took nearly 24 hours before the vice-president's office reported the shooting.

Cheney's office went public after the Corpus Christi Caller-Times broke the news on Sunday.

Lea Anne McBride, a spokesperson for Cheney, said the office did not immediately make the incident public because it was felt the decision was up to the ranch's owner, Katharine Armstrong.

Armstrong said Cheney turned to shoot a bird that had just been flushed and accidentally hit Whittington, a millionaire who has contributed funds to the Republicans.

The men were about 30 metres apart and both were wearing orange vests.

Whittington was mostly injured on his right side, with the pellets hitting his cheek, neck and chest, and was taken to hospital by ambulance, Armstrong told the Associated Press.

The pellets missed his eyes, she said.

Armstrong said she watched from a car as Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out to shoot at a covey of quail.

Whittington shot a bird and went to look for it in tall grass, while Cheney and the third man spotted another covey.

Whittington came up from behind the two men without letting them know he was there, Armstrong said.

"The vice-president didn't see him," she told AP on Sunday. "The covey flushed and the vice-president picked out a bird, and was following it and shot. And by God, Harry was in the line of fire and got peppered pretty good."

Cheney visited Whittington in hospital on Sunday, McBride said.