Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Cheney Shooting Victim Has Heart Attack

Shotgun Pellet Causes Cardiac Event In Victim

The lawyer's heart condition Tuesday led Blanchard [ER medical director] and hospital Administrator Peter Banko to say Whittington had suffered a "mild heart attack." However, their description of events does not fit that of a heart attack as that term is generally used.

Blanchard said a single shotgun pellet that was lodged in Whittington's chest had moved and come into contact with the surface of his heart. Inflammation of the heart muscle disturbed the electrical circuitry between the upper and lower heart chambers, triggering atrial fibrillation.

That condition affects 2.3 million Americans and is most common in the elderly. It causes an irregular heartbeat that is often faster than normal and frequently produces a feeling of breathlessness, though Blanchard said Whittington reportedly had no symptoms.

From, we learn that the victim has lead pellets lodged against his larynx and in his liver, as well as the lead pellet in his heart:

Full of Holes
The gossip about Cheney's bad shot.

At what range was Harry Whittington hit? The official story is that the blast from the vice president's shotgun hit Whittington at a distance of 30 yards. Hunters at the Vaughn Building are skeptical. The hunt took place on a cold, windy afternoon. Whittington and his fellow hunters were probably wearing warm clothing—say, a jacket and a flannel shirt. Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun, a smaller-diameter firearm with pellets smaller than BBs. Whittington's friends question whether the pellets could have penetrated his layers of clothing and skin at that range. Yet two pellets lodged against his larynx, another was in his liver, and another migrated into the heart muscle, causing the heart attack. The pattern of wounds was between the lower chest and the forehead, a pretty tight zone for shot of 30 yards. If the range was considerably less than 30 yards, then it is likely that Whittington's injuries were worse than the initial statement by Katharine Armstrong indicated. (The blast "knocked him silly," but "he was fine.")

And just why was Whittington shot in the face at close range? How could an experienced hunter make such a stupid mistake? This afternoon MSNBC published a story with a quote from ranch owner Armstrong:

"There may be a beer or two in there," she said, 'but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.'"

but later in the day MSGOP scrubbed that article, which now can only be found in the Google abstract. Drinking and hunting don't mix.

To be continued, with another version of the story tomorrow. Mark my words.

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