(WASHINGTON) -- Nearly five years after being shot by Vice President Dick Cheney on a hunting trip, Harry Whittington is still waiting for an apology.
Now 82, Whittington tells The Washington Post’s Paul Fahri in an extensive interview he still has about 30 pieces of birdshot inside him, remnants from the Feb. 2006 shooting incident that happened on a south Texas ranch.
Fahri reports Whittington’s injuries were “more dire than previously disclosed.”
Four days after the shooting, the birdshot near his heart cause it to “beat erratically” and Whittington was admitted back into the intensive care unit. Whittington’s doctors said he suffered a mild heart attack, but he downplayed it as a heart “event.”
He also suffered a collapsed lung and doctors performed invasive exploratory surgery to check his vital organs for damage.
“The load from Cheney's gun came close to, but didn't damage, the carotid artery in his neck,” Fahri reports. “A rupture could have been fatal, particularly since it took the better part of an hour to transport him from the vast Armstrong ranch to the Kingsville hospital.”
But perhaps the most stunning revelation in the article is that nearly five years later, Whittington is still waiting for an apology from Cheney.
When asked if Cheney ever said sorry to him, Whittington “who has been talking about his life and career for hours, suddenly draws silent.”
"I'm not going to go into that," he says sharply after a short pause.
Fahri writes that Whittington is “too gracious to say it out loud, but he doesn't dispute the notion, either.”
The circumstances of the 2006 shooting were illustrative of the way Cheney operated for eight years at the White House -- flying under the public radar and keeping the press at a distance.
Cheney’s office worked in a completely separate orbit from the Bush White House. While the president always has a group of reporters traveling with him, the same rules did not apply for the vice president -- and do not now for Vice President Biden.
Cheney often took trips that the public and press are not aware of – hunting trips, fishing trips or just visits to his home in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The shooting happened on a Saturday evening but the vice president did not speak to investigators until the next morning.
Cheney’s office did not inform the media about the shooting until after it was reported in a local Texas paper. The vice president did not comment publicly for several days.
Cheney said that week it was the “right call” to disseminate the information through Katharine Armstrong, the daughter of the ranch's owner and a witness to the shooting. Armstrong contacted her local newspaper on Sunday morning.
The vice president said at the time he knew there was no way to minimize the story but he wanted to make sure it was as accurate as possible.
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