Parents speak of their 'fearless' adventurer son

As tributes are paid to the young man killed by a polar bear in Norway, questions are asked about the system supposed to prevent such attacks

The family of a teenager who was mauled to death by a polar bear that clawed through his tent on a Norwegian glacier, paid tribute last night to their "fearless" son.

Horatio Chapple, 17, died on Friday after the animal attacked the campsite of a group of British teenagers on an Arctic expedition. Four others were seriously injured.

In a short statement his family said: "Horatio was so excited about his plans to be a doctor. [He was] strong, fearless and kind with an amazing sense of humour and an ability to laugh at himself.

"He was on the cusp of adulthood and had a clear vision of where his life was going."

The group was part of an 80-strong expedition of young people from the British Schools Exploration Society (BSES), a London-based charity. The society said that following the death it was bringing to an end its annual Norwegian expedition.

The bear attacked the group in the early morning as the 13 expedition members slept in their tents on the Von Postbreen glacier in the remote Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard. According to BSES, the team were undertaking a long-term project to study glaciers and document climate change.

Last night, Eton College, where Mr Chapple was a student, described him as a popular pupil whose death was "devastating".

In a statement the college said: "Horatio was a very well-liked member of the school and respected by masters and boys alike."

Those injured in the attack included the trip leaders, Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, and Andrew Ruck, 27, who were both severely injured. Patrick Flinders, 16, and Scott Bennell-Smith, 17, from Cornwall, both suffered less severe injuries. All four are said to be in a stable condition after undergoing operations in the Norwegian town of Tromso.

Mr Reid, from Plymouth, is believed to have shot and killed the bear, despite suffering serious head and neck injuries when he was mauled by the animal.

His father, Peter Reid, received an email from his son in hospital. Speaking of his pride at his son's bravery, he 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."

Mr Reid said he did not want to use the word "hero" to describe his son, but added: "The other members of the group wanted to know how Spike was, and they said he was very, very brave."

It is not yet known how the polar bear managed to avoid the camp's trip wire, which was supposed to alert the group to any unwelcome visitors by setting off an emergency rocket. The BSES is now working with the Norwegian authorities in Svalbard to establish what went wrong.

Liv Asta Odegaard, a spokeswoman for the governor of Svalbard, said it was unclear whether the BSES campers' wire had worked properly, adding that police were investigating the incident. "It is not unusual to camp here, but it is necessary to carry weapons," she said, confirming that one of the campers had shot the bear.

Mr Chapple, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, who had just finished his penultimate year at Eton, had hoped to study medicine at university.

His grandfather, Field Marshal Sir John Lyon Chapple, was head of the British Army from 1989 to 1992 and was Governor of Gibraltar from 1993 to 1995. He was also a former president of the BSES.

Polar bear attacks are not unusual in Svalbard, but deaths are rare. Since 1971, only four people have been killed in the region by bear attacks.

Receding sea ice, however, has forced bears to look further inland for food. This prompted the governor of Svalbard to issue a warning earlier this year about the increased risk after several polar bears were seen near the town of Longyearbyen.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - B2B, Corporate - City, London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Content and PR

£35000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Mid / Senior

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing digital agenc...

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Partnerships Manager

£50000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a newly-created partne...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor