Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Explorers not guilty of neglect after polar bear killed boy

Mauled: Horatio Chapple
Mauled: Horatio Chapple

A coroner has cleared an expedition company of "neglect" in respect of its responsibility to protect an Eton schoolboy mauled to death by a polar bear.

Ian Singleton, assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, returned a narrative verdict at the conclusion of a five-week inquest into the death of Horatio Chapple on an adventure holiday to the remote Svalbard islands in August 2011 with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) – now renamed the British Exploring Society (BES).

The coroner found that although the group was missing items of equipment including parts of a tripwire alert system, BSES hadn't acted with "neglect".

The teenager, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was sleeping in his tent when the bear went on the rampage, inflicting fatal injuries to his head and upper body on the morning of August 5.

Four others were hurt before the bear was shot dead at the camp site where the group, known as Chanzin Fire, had been staying.

In his narrative verdict, Mr Singleton said: "On the 5th August 2011, Horatio Chapple was in a tent on a snow bridge near to the Von Post Glacier in Svalbard, Norway, as part of an expedition.

"A polar bear was able to enter the camp shortly before 7.30am undetected as the tripwire alarm system around the perimeter of the camp had failed to activate due to a supporting post more likely than not being knocked over by the bear which caused the cartridge to move or fall out of the mine without it detonating."

Mr Singleton ruled Horatio had received fatal injuries immediately from contact with the bear.

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