|Attorney Harry M. Whittington, 83, the man former vice president Dick Cheney shot in the face four years ago, in a hunting accident in Texas: Nuri Vailbona/Washington Post|
AUSTIN -- Nearly five years on, Harry Whittington still speaks with a slight flutter in his voice -- a "warble," he calls it, inadvertently choosing a bird metaphor. His easy East Texas drawl changed forever one day in February 2006 when a tiny lead pellet pierced his larynx. It's still there.
Whittington sweeps a hand up to his dusky face and points near his right eye, then to the right side of his forehead. The eye socket, hairline and hand have birdshot pellets lodged in them, too. If you look closely -- and strangers occasionally sidle up to him to do just that -- the accident's remnants are evident; there's a tiny bump in each spot.
Every so often, for months afterward, some of the lead in Whittington's body worked its way to the surface.
But many pieces remain too deeply embedded to remove, including one near his heart. At 82, Whittington knows he will live the rest of his days with about 30 pieces of shot inside him. Somehow, he jokes, he can get through a metal detector without causing a commotion.
Four years ago, Whittington was on a quail hunt, walking in the tall grass of a South Texas ranch, when a fellow hunter wheeled on a winging bird and fired. The shot peppered Whittington in the face, neck and torso.
The shooter was Dick Cheney, the vice president of the United States.
(Click here to read the full story on the Washington Post website.)