A polar bear ripped through a teenager’s tent, dragged him out and killed him as he struggled to free, an inquest has heard. Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple, 17, died during a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) trip to Svalbard, Norway, in August 2011. The inquest heard from his father, David, who revealed he had discussed the risks of a polar bear attack with Horatio before he and 12 other teenagers set off. The family were given a risk assessment, Mr Chapple said, which reassured them there would be trip wires, bear watches and flares to protect against an attack.
It would appear likely that the bear must have ripped open the tent on Horatio’s side. It then dragged Horatio out causing serious, indeed, probably mortal wounds to his head.
Sir David Steel
Sir David Steel described the incident, which took place at 7.30am and “lasted no more than a few minutes”. He described how the bear had approached through the north-western side of the trip-wire system but none of the warning mines had exploded. One of the group leaders tried to shoot the bear - but “on each occasion a bullet was ejected on to the ground leaving the rifle empty”. The bear then mauled the leader before being deterred by a stone and eventually shot dead. Horatio’s death was caused by “extensive soft tissue and bone injuries to the face and neck including destruction of the right facial artery”.
I believed and trusted all the things they listed would happen. Otherwise I wouldn’t have let Horatio go.
Hortatio’s mother, Olivia