Ms. Willeford, whose husband was also at the ranch, said in an interview after visiting the victim at the hospital that Mr. Whittington accepted responsibility for the accident. "He understands that he could have handled it better," Ms. Willeford said. "Harry should have let us know he was back there."If that's not clear, she elaborated Monday: it was all Harry's fault:
She said Mr. Whittington was perhaps 90 feet away when the vice president shot him, as he was tracking a quail that had flown up and dipped back down, and only she, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Whittington were hunting at the time.Too bad Mr. Whittington didn't get the memo:
Two others were waiting in a car nearby – Mrs. Armstrong and Serita Hixon – in keeping with a safety rule that limits the number of hunters to three at a time, she said.
"The three of us were out of the vehicle hitting a covey," she said. "Harry Whittington dropped back to pick up a bird he'd shot. The vice president and I moved on to shoot another covey and unbeknownst to us, Harry had picked up a bird and caught up with us. He had walked up, and we didn't realize that he had caught up with us," she said.
"He was back behind us, and we turned off to the left to shoot another covey. ... The bird came up and was going back down, and you know how you swing on it, with your gun, following a bird," she said.
Mrs. Willeford said she'd hunted once before with Mr. Cheney and would do so again.
"Absolutely," Mrs. Willeford said. "He's a great shot. He's very safety-conscious. This is something that unfortunately was a bad accident, and when you're with a group like that, he's safe or safer than all the rest of us."
Sally (Whittington) May said her father does not recall a lot of the incident, nor was he involved in how or whether information about the incident was released: "He didn't know at the time if he was going to the hospital or the mortuary."Nor did his other daughter:
One of Whittington's daughters, Peggy Puckett, said Tuesday morning that Whittington was feeling well. "It was just a terrible, terrible accident. No one was at fault," she said. "He feels bad for the vice president."Notice the victim is more gracious about this than the shooter or any of his apologists.
Asked if Whittington agreed with accounts by others that the accident was Whittington's fault, Puckett said her father "hasn't said anything like that."
She said her father has about 50 years of hunting experience.
Apparently nothing is too low for these people; no cover story too venial that they won't trot it up on a moment's notice and clamp onto it like a bulldog.
Truly they are without shame.