'No stone unturned' in bear probe
The organisers of an expedition that ended in tragedy when an Eton schoolboy was mauled to death by a polar bear have vowed to "leave no stone unturned" in their investigation into events.
Horatio Chapple, 17, was camping in Svalbard, Norway, with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) when their group came under attack on Friday. Four other members of their group were injured and are being treated in hospital.
Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, the expedition leader who shot the bear in the head, and 27-year-old fellow leader Andy Ruck left hospital on Monday morning, a spokesman for the University Hospital in Tromso said.
Patrick Flinders, 16, and 17-year-old Scott Bennell-Smith, fellow members of the "Chanzin Fire" group who were sharing a tent with Horatio, arrived back on British soil yesterday and were transferred to hospitals closer to home. Patrick, from Jersey, has been hailed a hero after punching the 250kg animal on the nose in an attempt to scare it away.
The remaining groups involved in the trip have returned to base camp and all will have returned to the UK by Tuesday. Relatives of those on the expedition and BSES staff will meet the group members, along with specialists such as doctors and counsellors if needed.
BSES spokesman Edward Watson said: "Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating the tragic incident on 5 August in Svalbard.
"The Norwegian authorities' inquiries are under way. In parallel we have begun to fully review procedures, examine equipment and gather witness statements to understand if anything could have been done to prevent this tragic incident happening.
"The investigation into the Chanzin Fire incident will be chaired by an independent third party who we will appoint shortly, and we will make our findings public. I am keen that this is a transparent process for the benefit not only of our society but for the exploring community as a whole."
He said that there would be no comment about the attack itself, at the request of Norwegian authorities, until their investigation was complete.
Mr Watson added: "A young man has lost his life, and four expedition members were injured. We remain committed to supporting those affected through this particularly difficult time in their lives."