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Family tribute to bear attack boy

The family of an Eton pupil killed by a polar bear while on an adventure holiday in Norway have hailed him as a "strong, fearless and kind" boy.

Aspiring medic Horatio Chapple, 17, died after the bear attacked a group travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition.

His relatives said in a statement he had been "so excited about his plans to be a doctor" and praised his "amazing sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself".

Eton College paid tribute to a popular pupil whose death on the Von Postbreen glacier near Longyearbyen on Svalbard, north of the Norwegian mainland, was "devastating".

Four other members of Horatio's party who were injured in the incident were recovering in hospital in Norway following surgery overnight, with plans in place to bring them home imminently.

Meanwhile the father of injured man Michael "Spike" Reid, an expedition leader who shot the bear, spoke of his pride at his son's bravery. Mr Reid, 29, had been sleeping in a nearby tent when the bear attacked, and went to assist. But he too was set upon. In an email sent from his bed at the University Hospital in Tromso, where the survivors were taken, he told his family how he fired at the bear.

His father, Peter Reid, 65, from Plymouth, said: "He told us the bear attacked the tent with three people in it, and he and another leader went to help and were viciously attacked by the bear. He managed to get away, ran to get a gun and shot the bear."

Michael Reid sustained injuries to his face and neck. Fellow leader Andrew Ruck, 27, believed to be from Aberdeen, Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, from Cornwall, and Patrick Flinders, 16, from Jersey - who was said to have punched the 250kg bear on the nose - also underwent treatment and were described as stable.

BSES chairman Edward Watson announced that the expedition had been called off as a result of the tragedy and all members would be brought home.

Scott's father, Peter Bennell-Smith, said Friday had been "without doubt the worst day of my life". He said: "It will never leave me to think how close Scott came to being killed that day. I am so sorry for the loss of his new friend and fellow adventurer, Horatio. It is every parent's worst nightmare."


From Belfast Telegraph