Kolbeco – PR Quote – Accident brings up safety
February 22, 2006 Accident brings up safety
By Kendra Lueckert, Reporter.

Cheney’s accident occurred Feb. 11 during a quail hunting expedition in South Texas. Cheney accidentally shot 78-year-old Harry Whittington, a member of his hunting party, in the face, neck and chest. Whittington was released from the hospital on Feb. 17.

Although only one shot hit Whittington, the shot might have produced up to 200 small pellets because Cheney used a shotgun, said Bryan Bethel, Hunter Education Program Coordinator for the Missouri Department of Conservation.

Darin Jacober, co-owner of the Central Missouri Outdoor Club, said it is common for bird hunters to be “peppered” with pellets by another member of a hunting party.

“I was shocked that the guy even went to the hospital because I’ve been peppered before,” Jacober said. “I don’t really know how close the guy was to Cheney when he was shot, but anyone that’s shot birds has probably been peppered at some point.”

When a bird takes flight, Bethel said, a hunter could become so focused on the target that he or she might forget there might be someone in the line of fire.

There also is an increased risk with bird hunting because bird hunters typically are not required to wear orange, like those who hunt other animals are required to do.

Bethel said this makes it more difficult for hunters to see each other and differentiate between the movements of a bird and the movements of a person.

“Other states may have higher rates for hunting accidents because we don’t have a particular influx for pheasants or other birds,” Bethel said. “Quail and pheasant hunters don’t have to wear orange so it’s harder to see those hunters. That may contribute to the fact that other states have higher averages than we do in Missouri.”

The MDC requires hunters complete a safety course before obtaining hunting licenses. The course became required in 1988, when the state experienced an average of 100 accidents per year. During the past five years, the average number of hunting accidents per year in Missouri has dropped to less than 30, with quail hunting accidents occurring only once or twice per year.

When hunting accidents occur in Missouri, a certified investigator is required to investigate the incident. Instead of looking to place blame, the state aims to incorporate the information obtained from an investigation into the hunting education course to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Because the White House did not release information about the accident immediately after the incident, some speculated that aspects of the accident were kept hidden, Scott Kolbe, public relations specialist and owner of Kolbeco Marketing in St. Louis, said.

“In a crisis situation, you want to make sure you control the information going to the media so it doesn’t appear that you’re trying to hide something,” Kolbe said. “Because they didn’t get it out quickly, reporters started asking questions about whether Cheney was drinking and all those things.”

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