The Hunting Accident

The Washington Post
Wednesday, February 15, 2006; 8:51 AM

Chronology of events surrounding Vice President Cheney's accidental shooting of a friend on a hunting trip in South Texas.

Saturday afternoon, Feb. 11: Vice President Cheney; Harry Whittington; Pamela Pitzer Willeford, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein; Katharine Armstrong; and Armstrong's sister, Sara Storey Armstrong Hixon, go quail hunting on the Armstrong Ranch in South Texas.

6:50 p.m. (Eastern time): Cheney, using a 28-gauge shotgun, accidentally wounds Whittington after Whittington walks into his line of fire, while Willeford stands nearby in the field and Armstrong and her sister are seated in a car parked nearby. Secret Service agents and medical aides traveling with Cheney come to Whittington's assistance and treat birdshot wounds to his right cheek, neck and chest.

7:20 p.m.: An ambulance standing nearby for the vice president takes Whittington to nearby Kingsville, Tex. Whittington is then flown by helicopter to Christus Spohn Memorial Hospital in Corpus Christi.

Late evening: Whittington arrives at the hospital and is admitted to the intensive-care unit.

7:50-8 p.m.: The Secret Service notifies Kenedy County Sheriff Ramon Salinas III of the accident. Salinas indicates he would send deputies the next morning around 8.

Saturday evening: Members of the hunting party return to the Armstrong Ranch, where they make calls to check on Whittington's condition and then have dinner. According to Katharine Armstrong, no one suggested publicly releasing the news. At least one sheriff's deputy shows up at the ranch but is turned away. Deputies are not aware of the earlier conversation between the Secret Service and the sheriff.

7:30 p.m.: White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. calls President Bush to inform him that Cheney's hunting party had an accident but does not know that Cheney was the shooter. After the call, Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove speaks with Katharine Armstrong.

Around 8 p.m.: Rove calls Bush to update him and let him know that Cheney accidentally shot Whittington.

6 a.m. Sunday: White House press secretary Scott McClellan finds out about the accident. On Monday, he says that he urged that information be made available as quickly as possible.

Sunday morning: Armstrong consults with family members, who agree that they should release news to the public. They speak to Cheney, who tells them to do what they are comfortable doing, according to Armstrong.

10 a.m.: Armstrong calls the newsroom at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times newspaper and gets no answer. A short time later, she remembers she has a cell phone number for a reporter there. She calls and leaves a message. She also e-mails a message to the reporter.

Between noon and 1 p.m.: Armstrong and the reporter connect.

2:48 p.m.: The newspaper posts a story on its Web site, and the vice president's office confirms the account.

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