Whittington makes a statement
Cheers Greet Cheney at Appearance in Wyo.
By LYNN BREZOSKY and BEN NEARY, Associated Press
Writers 16 minutes ago
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - The lawyer shot by Vice
President Dick Cheney while quail hunting left a
hospital Friday, stressing to reporters that it was an
accident and giving Cheney his apologies.
"My family and I are deeply sorry for everything Vice
President Cheney and his family have had to deal
with," Harry Whittington said in his first comments
since being shot on a South Texas ranch six days
The Austin attorney spoke less than 20 minutes before
Cheney made his first public appearance since the
shooting, receiving a rousing ovation from legislators
in his home state of Wyoming.
"It's a wonderful experience to be greeted by such
warmth by the leaders of our great state. It's
especially true when you've had a very long week,"
Cheney told lawmakers in Cheyenne.
"Thankfully, Harry Whittington is on the mend and
doing very well."
Whittington, 78, was hit in the face, neck and chest
with birdshot Feb. 11. After a shotgun pellet traveled
to his heart, he had suffered a mild heart attack
Tuesday while being treated at Christus Spohn Hospital
Whittington's voice was a bit raspy, but strong, as he
gave his brief statement. He had what appeared to be a
line of cuts on his upper right eyelid and scrapes on
"We all assume certain risks in what we do, in what
activities we pursue," Whittington said. "Accidents do
and will happen."
He said the past weekend involved "a cloud of
misfortune and sadness that is not easy to explain,
especially with those who are not familiar with the
great sport of quail hunting."
Dr. David Blanchard, the hospital's chief of emergency
care, said the attorney was lucky to have survived the
Whittington was being released Friday because of "his
excellent health," Blanchard said, but he added that
Whittington wasn't answering questions because "he is
not 100 percent."
Whittington did feel well enough to crack a joke.
"I also thank all of you for understanding as best you
can that medical attention is very important to
someone my age and you haven't failed to give my
age," he said, drawing laughs from reporters.
He also sent his love and respect to Cheney and his
family. "We hope that he will continue to come to
Texas and seek the relaxation that he deserves,"
Hospital spokeswoman Yvonne Wheeler wouldn't say
exactly when Whittington left the hospital Friday or
where he was going, only that he left in a car.
Cheney took full blame for the shooting in a Wednesday
appearance on Fox News, but his comments Friday were
focused on reminiscing about Wyoming politicians,
including his own time as the state's sole
representative in the U.S. House.
"For better than a decade, I proudly answered to the
title, 'the gentleman from Wyoming,'" Cheney said.
He also recalled the late Gov. Stan Hathaway, who gave
Cheney his first job in politics as an intern in the
Wyoming Legislature in 1965, when Cheney was paid $300
for 40 days work. Hathaway would go on to become
governor of Wyoming, and established the mineral
severance taxes that are responsible for the state's
current $1.8 billion budget surplus.
About a dozen people waited outside the Capitol in
subzero temperatures to protest Cheney's appearance.
"We're a little embarrassed that he's from our state,"
said Tony Hayden, of Cheyenne.
But Cheney also had his supporters, including Dan
Yoksh, of Cheyenne, who watched Cheney's speech on
television at the Cheyenne Regional Airport.
"I think the media has blown things out of
proportion," Yoksh said of the accident. "If you go
duck hunting out here, you're bound to get shot
Cheney received two ovations from the Legislature, one
when he was introduced and a second when state Senate
President Grant Larson announced a recent $2.7 million
gift from Cheney and his wife Lynne to the University
In Texas, the Kenedy County Sheriff's Department
closed its investigation in the shooting Thursday
without filing any charges. The department's report
supported the account of the vice president, who told
an investigator he did not see his hunting partner
while aiming for a bird.
Neary reported from Cheyenne, Wyo. Associated Press
Writers Nedra Pickler in Washington and Jennifer Byrd
in Cheyenne contributed to this report.