- The Washington Times - Friday, February 17, 2006

The Texas lawyer who was shot in the face and chest last weekend by Vice President Dick Cheney was discharged from a Corpus Christi, Texas, hospital yesterday, bearing few marks and with kind words for the man who injured him.

In a brief appearance before reporters outside the hospital, Harry Whittington’s right cheek showed several small circular scabs and his face appeared slightly swollen and discolored, with a line of cuts above his eye, which was ringed with the yellow tint of a healing bruise.

Mr. Whittington told the reporters that he was sorry for all the trouble Mr. Cheney had faced over the past week.

“My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice President Cheney and his family have had to deal with,” he said. “We send our love and respect to them as they deal with situations that are much more serious than what we’ve had this week. We hope that he will continue to come to Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves.”

He said the incident was nothing more than an accident.

“We all assume certain risks in what we do, in what activities we pursue,” he said. “Regardless of how experienced, careful and dedicated we are, accidents do and will happen. And that’s what happened.”

Mr. Whittington apologized for not appearing sooner, but “medical attention is very important for someone my age.” Mr. Whittington is 78. To laughter from reporters, he added: “And you haven’t failed to give my age.”

In a raspy voice that broke slightly as he praised his physicians, medical staff and nurses, whom he called “servants of God.”

“For many years, my family had been friends with the Armstrongs down in Kenedy County. We had visited them for over 25 years, and have had some wonderful trips and visits and pleasant memories that we cherish forever.

“However, this past weekend encompassed all of us in a cloud of misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain, especially to those who are not familiar with the great sport of quail hunting.”

He had a good word for the reporters, too. “Your role is to get the news out to the public. I compliment you on what you’ve done. I’ve read and seen many of your reports, and I know your job isn’t easy. I regret that I couldn’t have been here earlier so you could see what a lucky person I am.”

Mr. Cheney peppered his companion with birdshot — pellets smaller than BBs — at about 5:30 p.m. CST during a quail hunt at a southern Texas ranch. The Kenedy County Sheriff’s Department closed its investigation of the shooting on Thursday, calling the incident an accident.

Mr. Cheney told an investigator that he did not see Mr. Whittington, who had left the hunting party and returned without announcing his presence. In a Fox News interview this week, the vice president took full responsibility, calling it “one of the worst days of my life.”

Yesterday, on a short stop to deliver a speech to the Wyoming Legislature in Cheyenne, in his home state, Mr. Cheney mentioned the incident for the first time publicly.

“I want to thank you for that welcome home. It’s a wonderful experience to be greeted with such warmth by the leaders of our great state. That’s especially true when you’ve had a very long week. Thankfully, Harry Whittington is on the mend and doing very well.”

Mr. Whittington took no questions because doctors said he was still not at full strength. Prior to his discharge, he had been listed in stable condition after suffering a mild heart episode Tuesday after one of the birdshot pellets migrated to his heart.

Dr. David Blanchard, chief of emergency care at the Christus Spohn hospital, said Mr. Whittington was released because of “his excellent health,” but “he is not 100 percent.”

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