It has been almost five years since Harry Whittington took an errant blast from then-Vice President Dick Cheney's shotgun while on a quail hunting trip in Texas. The pellets perforated his face, neck and chest, causing health complications for the Texas trial lawyer both in the immediate wake of the incident and in the period after. A total of 200 bits of lead shrapnel entered Whittington's body that February evening in 2006 -- 30 still remain -- and out of it, he's never even gotten a personal apology from Cheney.
The Washington Post interviewed Whittington recently, a man still marked by birdshot, but who seems remarkably at peace with the fateful episode.
The Post reports:
Despite his scars, Whittington bears no ill will toward Cheney. He calls him "a very capable and honorable man" and adds, "He's said some very kind things to me."
Those "kind things" don't amount to an apology, however, not even one like Whittington delivered to the public and the White House after being discharged from the hospital in 2006.
"My family and I are deeply sorry for all that Vice President Cheney and his family have had to go through this past week," Whittington said at the time.
In an interview with Fox News around the time of the shooting, Cheney said that the image of Whittington falling is something he'll "never be able to get out of [his] mind" and that it was "one of the worst days of [his] life."
Many unanswered questions arose after the 2006 shooting, including the puzzling fact that it took 18 hours for the incident to be reported. Karl Rove's connection to the series of events following the shooting provided another intriguing element to the sensational story.
And with all the speculation that various hunting protocol may have been breached by Cheney, a man that was misrepresented as Whittington's "old friend" and "hunting buddy" -- the two had met only a few times -- the only thing that the Texas attorney is left with is a good story and a blood-spattered memento of his ill-fated hunting trip with the Vice President:
"Take a look," he urges, holding out a baseball cap emblazoned with the name of a hunting resort, and a hunting vest, both in safety orange. The vest has been sliced up the side, as if someone was trying to remove it in a hurry. Its surface is splattered with brownish, irregularly shaped bloodstains.
Mercedes Whittington almost blanches when she sees the vest. "It was just awful," she says, as her husband offers a closer look.
Harry Whittington saved the vest not just as a souvenir but as a warning. He shows it to friends, and to the children of friends, to illustrate the dangers of firearms. "It's an education for them," he says.
Click here for more details from the Washington Post, and scroll down for Whittington's apology following the shooting.