Harry Whittington, who was shot by Dick Cheney during a 2006 hunting trip, dies : NPR
Harry Whittington, whom former Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot while they were hunting quail on a farm in Texas 17 years ago, passed away. He was 95 years old.
Whittington died at his home Saturday in Austin, family friend Karl Rove said Monday.
Before Whittington became the focus of national attention after the accidental shooting, the attorney had long been known for helping to build the Republican Party in Texas into the dominant political force it is today, and who governors turn to when they need to clean up the mess. organ.
Rove, an influential Republican strategist and former adviser to former President George W. Bush, said Whittington was “a man of great integrity and profound compassion” who was popular with politicians. leaders called for the implementation of “important tasks”.
Whittington and others were hunting with Cheney at the vast Armstrong Ranch in South Texas on February 11, 2006 when Cheney, while aiming for a bird, hit Whittington, then 78 years old. The accident was not publicly reported until the next day when the rancher called the local newspaper – the Corpus Christi Caller-Times – and told it what had happened.
Whittington was shot in the face, neck and chest with bird bullets and suffered a mild heart attack from the bullet near his heart. When you leave the hospital about a week after the accident, he said “accidents happened and will happen” and apologized to Cheney, saying he was “so sorry for everything” that Cheney and his family had to deal with after the accident. job.
Cheney was criticized for breaking a basic rule of hunting – that someone holding a gun must make sure they know what they’re shooting at before pulling the trigger – and for not immediately making what’s public. happened.
The accident also created countless jokes. Jay Leno, then the host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC, quipped that Cheney would capitalize on the crash for the upcoming Valentine’s Day with a new fragrance called “Duck.” Billionaire Bill Gates greeted his audience at a conference by saying, “I’m really happy to be here. My other invitation is to go quail hunting with Dick Cheney.”
In an interview with Fox News days after the crash, Cheney said it was “one of the worst days of my life at the time.”
Cheney said the accident happened after Whittington stepped out of the hunting group to retrieve a bird that had fallen into deep cover. Cheney said Whittington was wearing a matching orange outfit and his upper body was visible, but he was standing in a trench with the sun in the background.
“You can’t blame anyone else,” Cheney said. “I’m the one who pulled the trigger and shot my friend.”
Whittington owns a building in downtown Austin where many of the state’s GOP power brokers have built their empires. Bush used the building as his gubernatorial campaign headquarters, as did former Texas Governor Rick Perry. Rove also has his office there.
Whittington is a longtime player in Texas politics. In 1961, he worked on John Tower’s US Senate campaign and later helped young Bush run for Congress, a race he lost. He is also trusted by governors trying to clean up troubled state agencies and has spent decades serving on state councils.
In the 1980s, Republican Governor Bill Clements appointed him to the former Texas Board of Corrections, the body that oversees the state prison system, which a federal judge declared unconstitutional because of the wrongs. brutal case.
Whittington became an advocate for change in a prison system that lacked basic medical care and where inmates were subjected to beatings by other inmates. He is also an advocate for the rights of prisoners with intellectual disabilities.
Bush, then governor of Texas, appointed him in 1999 to lead the restructured Texas Funeral Services Commission, which was embroiled in a whistleblower lawsuit.
Rove said Whittington not only serves his community in countless ways but has been a “source of good advice and mentorship to dozens of people,” including himself. He said Whittington is not only his landlord but also his company’s secretary and treasurer.
“He was an extraordinary human being, and being remembered as the victim of a hunting accident makes me uncomfortable,” Rove said.