Eton schoolboy (17) killed by polar bear while exploring


OSLO – A 17-year-old British boy was mauled to death yesterday by a polar bear while on an adventure holiday in north Norway.

Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple died after the bear attacked a party travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition camped on the Von Postbreen glacier near Longyearbyen on Svalbard, north of the Norwegian mainland.

The youngster had ambitions to become a doctor and was described as a “fine young man” by the society.

Four other people, who were injured in the incident, were taken by helicopter to hospital in Longyearbyen and then on to University Hospital in Tromso, Norway.

The society’s chairman, Edward Watson, said two injured had suffered “severe” injuries but the rest of the party was unharmed. BSES Expeditions said those injured were trip leaders Michael Reid and Andrew Ruck, believed to be from Aberdeen, as well as two young men – Patrick Flinders and Scott Smith. A spokeswoman for the hospital said the patients, aged 16, 17, 27 and 29, were in a “stable” condition. She said they would be transferred to a British hospital as soon as they were strong enough.

“There were about 80 people all told in the expedition. The young people are all between 16 and 23,” a BSES spokeswoman said.

The Svalbard governor’s office said Mr Chapple and the injured were part of a group of 13 attacked by the bear. “The eight persons that are physically unharmed are being taken care of by competent personnel in Longyearbyen.”

Liv Asta Odegaard, spokeswoman for the governor of Svalbard, said: “We got a call via satellite phone from a British group of campers that there had been a polar bear attack and that one person was dead and that others were injured and they needed assistance. There are no roads in the area so we scrambled a helicopter.”

Ms Odegaard said campers in the area normally lay down a trip wire around tents when they go to sleep, which sets off an emergency rocket if it is crossed by an animal, but she was unsure whether the British campers’ wire had worked properly. Teenager Kyle Gouveia, who was on the expedition, told Sky News the group was given shooting practice on the second day in case a bear attacked.

Mr Gouveia, who was sent home with “frost nip”, said he knows Patrick Flinders from primary and secondary school in Jersey. BSES Expeditions is a registered charity and has close links with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme.