Harry Whittington, the man who was mistakenly shot by former vice president Dick Cheney when they were quail hunting on a Texas ranch 17 years ago, has passed away. He was 95. According to a family friend, Karl Rove, Whittington passed away at his Austin home on Saturday.
Before the unintentional shooting catapulted Whittington into the national spotlight, the lawyer was well-known for his contributions to the growth of Texas’s Republican Party into the state’s preeminent political force and for being the man governors turned to when troubled state agencies needed to be fixed.
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.”
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On February 11, 2006, Cheney was out bird hunting with Whittington and several other people on the sizable Armstrong Ranch in South Texas when Cheney accidentally hit Whittington, who was 78 at the time.
The ranch owner called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times the following day to report the mishap, but it wasn’t until then that it was made public.
Cheney came under fire for breaking a fundamental hunting rule, according to which the bearer of a firearm must be certain of the target before releasing the trigger, as well as for delaying announcing the incident to the public.
“He was an extraordinary human being, and to be remembered as being the victim of a hunting accident sort of gripes me.” –Karl Rove
Numerous jokes were also made about the incident. Then-host of “The Tonight Show” on NBC, Jay Leno, joked that Cheney would capitalize on the mishap by releasing a new fragrance called “Duck” for Valentine’s Day.
At a conference, billionaire Bill Gates began by declaring, “I’m really delighted to be here. Dick Cheney invited me to go quail hunting with him.