Whittington Suffers Heart Attack from Cheney Shooting

This weekend’s hunting accident involving the Vice President has suddenly turned quite serious:

The 78-year-old lawyer who was accidentally shot by Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday suffered a mild heart attack today after bird shot migrated to his heart, doctors in South Texas said. Doctors said Mr. Whittington was moved back into the intensive care unit after his heart monitors detected an irregular beat this morning. After consulting with cardiologists in Corpus Christi, Tex., where he is being treated, and with those on the White House medical team, his doctors decided to perform a cardiac catheterization around 10 a.m. Eastern time to determine the extent of the damage.

Peter Banko, the administrator of Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi, said that the procedure, which sends a dye into the blood vessels all the way to the heart, detected one BB size pellet in his heart that was causing his heart to quiver. “Some of the bird shot appears to have moved and lodged into part of his heart, causing the arterial fibrillation, in what we would say is a minor heart attack,” Dr. Banko told reporters this afternoon at a news briefing outside the hospital. He said Mr. Whittington was in stable condition now, and alert, but that he would remain in the hospital for at least another week to make sure that pellet and any others did not continue to move to other vital organs. But Dr. David Blanchard, the hospital’s chief of emergency, said the pellet “does not appear to be mobile.”

In Washington, Mr. Cheney’s office said the vice president was told when he arrived at the White House this morning that doctors had decided to perform the catheterization on Mr. Whittington. They also said the vice president had called Mr. Whittington at about 1:30 p.m., after the procedure, and had spoken with him. “The vice president wished Mr. Whittington well and asked if there was anything he needed,” the statement said. “The vice president said that he stood ready to assist. Mr. Whittington’s spirits were good, but obviously his situation deserves the careful monitoring that his doctors are providing. “The vice president said that his thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Whittington and his family,” the statement went on to say.


Hat tip: Michelle Malkin who calls for “a moratorium on the jokes from all sides.” Indeed. As Frank J notes, “It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Has a Heart Attack.”


Related Elsewhere:

Previously: VP Cheney Accidentally Shoots Hunting Partner

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bhoe says:

    This weekend’s hunting accident involving the Vice President has suddenly turned quite serious:

    This has got to be a fiction concocted by the White House Press corps. As Katherine Armstrong said, Whittington just got “peppered”–no big deal. It happens from time-to-time.

    If this is true, hopefully Whittington will learn not to jump in front of someone carrying a weapon. As Armstrong said, Whittington was acting totally carelessly.

    Since the White House has been pretty transparent, quick to disclose information, and straight-forward on this thing, I am sure that the media is blowing the so-called “heart attack” way out of proportion.

  2. anjin-san says:

    Good plan, I wonder how the victim’s family feels about these comments:

    White House Finds Humor in Hunting Mishap

    President Bush’s spokesman quipped Tuesday that the burnt orange school colors of the University of Texas championship football team that was visiting the White House shouldn’t be confused for hunter’s safety wear.

    “The orange that they’re wearing is not because they’re concerned that the vice president may be there,” joked White House press secretary Scott McClellan, following the lead of late-night television comedians. “That’s why I’m wearing it.”

    The president’s brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, took a similar jab after slapping an orange sticker on his chest from the Florida Farm Bureau that read, “No Farmers, No Food.”

    “I’m a little concerned that Dick Cheney is going to walk in,” the governor cracked during an appearance in Tampa Monday.

  3. Len says:

    I love this:

    This weekend’s hunting accident involving the Vice President has suddenly turned quite serious

    What? It wasn’t serious before? I still find it difficult to believe that people were making a joke out of our vice president shooting a man.

  4. Rodney Dill says:

    People always joke about situations like this, especially in light of it not apparently being a serious injury. The heartattack from one of the pellets occured somewhat after the fact, at least as reported.

    I remember hearing humor about the Challenger explosion within a couple of days of the incident. People rely on gallows humor to get by at times, regardless of how distasteful others find it.

  5. McGehee says:

    You’re right, Len. We should react to the jokes by rioting, burning down fast-food joints, and threatening to behead the jokers.

  6. Alan says:

    If you look at the sheriff’s description of the injuries (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0213061cheney1.html), as well as the fact Whittington was in intensive care, I think there should have been little doubt from the beginning that this was a serious incident. Whittington may well be fighting for his life soon, and I think we should all keep him in our prayers.

  7. Alan says:

    Hello Bhoe,

    With statements like that, I don’t know how you can wake up in the morning with any respect for yourself.

    This incident clearly illustrates some of the more important rules of hunting: (a) you are always responsible for your own shots and what they hit, no matter what; and (b) when one hunter breaks line to pursue or retrieve game, all other hunting must cease, and all other hunters must lower their weapons and take their fingers off the trigger until everyone is back in line. To take a shot when everyone is not accounted for is completely reckless and negligent. No bird is worth someone’s life.

  8. Len says:


    YouÂ’re right, Len. We should react to the jokes by rioting, burning down fast-food joints, and threatening to behead the jokers.

    Not what I said at all, and you know it.

    I’m glad you find it funny that our vice president shot and very nearly killed a man.

    Moral values, anyone?

  9. anjin-san says:

    McGehee has every right to look down his nose at muslims who riot. After all, we have never had riots in this country…

  10. LJD says:

    It’s funny- when the jokes originally come from the administration’s opposition, then a complication makes things more grave than they seemed at first, the opposition turns around and points the finger at the administration for making the joke. Priceless.

  11. McGehee says:

    IÂ’m glad you find it funny that our vice president shot and very nearly killed a man.

    Considering how much crap he gets from the “chickenhawk” meme guys, one would think this would finally validate him in their opinion.