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Friends of Killed Teen React to Polar Bear Attack in Norway

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By Ray Downs, Christian Post Reporter
August 6, 2011|5:33 pm

The boy who was killed by a polar bear in Norway was 17-year-old, Horatio Chapple of Eton, England, authorities have reported.

"Horatio was so excited about his plans to be a doctor, strong, fearless and kind with an amazing sense of humor and an ability to laugh at himself,” his family said in a public statement.

“He was on the cusp of adulthood and had a clear vision of where his life was going,” they added.

The attack occurred as part of an expedition on Norway’s Svalbard Island with the British Schools Exploring Society, a UK-based adventure travel outfit. The father of one of the survivors said a trip-wire system designed to scare away polar bears malfunctioned, allowing the bear to invade a tent where Chapple was sleeping along with Patrick Flinders, 16, and Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, the UK’s Daily Mail reported.

Flinders punched the bear in the nose to stave off the attack on Horatio, but it was not enough.

Michael Reid, 29, the camp leader, was in another tent when the attack occurred. He and another camp leader, Andy Ruck, rushed to help the victims. Both were viciously attacked, but Reid managed to get away in time to get a gun and shoot the bear, according to the UK’s Telegraph.

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Reid suffered severe injuries to his face and neck. Ruck also suffered serious injuries and both are currently being treated in the hospital. Patrick Flinders, 16, and Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, the other two campers in the tent with Chapple also suffered serious injuries and are being treated.

All four are in stable condition and awaiting clearance to be medically evacuated back to the UK.

Upon hearing that his son overcame injury to shoot the attacking bear, Reid’s father, Peter, said he felt a "mixture of anxiety and pride.”

"We were very anxious," he said. "We're upset, but there's a family in Wiltshire with a 17-year-old son who's been killed and we can't imagine the grief they're going through."

Michael Reid, who lives in London and works as an events coordinator for the Royal Geographical Society, wrote an email to media from his hospital bed to give kind words for Horatio, who he described as "one of the best members of our group."

"I am so devastated,” he said.

BSES said that the group was taking part in a long-term project to study glaciers and document changes from previous expeditions as they looked into climate change.

Scientists have argued that climate change is a contributing factor to decline seals, polar bears’ main food source, causing polar bears to travel longer distances looking for food, making contact with humans more common.

Whatever the reasons for the attack, from trip-wire systems malfunctioning to climate change, the devastation of a young man’s death has left a deep mark and his family and community took to the web to honor him.

“Horatio was a very well-liked member of the school and respected by masters and boys alike,” Eton College, where Horatio went to school, said in a statement on its website. “His loss is devastating to those who knew him.”

Rachel Chapple, Horatio’s aunt, created a Facebook memorial to honor him.

“Horatio, I think of you tall and strong and smiling in your quiet, charming way,” she wrote.

“You were an astonishing nephew.”

 

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