Third operation for leader who shot killer bear

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The Independent Online

One of the leaders of the Arctic expedition in which a British public schoolboy was mauled to death by a polar bear is to undergo a third operation today on his injuries.

Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, shot dead the bear that attacked the British students on a Norwegian island 12 days ago.

The bear had killed Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple, 17, and wounded four other people, including two teenagers.

Mr Reid is in a stable condition in Derriford Hospital in his home city of Plymouth, Devon. This morning he said he was to undergo surgery to repair head injuries sustained in the attack.

Writing on Twitter, he said: "Another day, another operation. I'm now going into my 3rd(sic). Please cross your fingers for me."

He has previously tweeted about having surgery to repair a broken jaw, fractured skull and eye-socket damage, writing that he had been left unable to breathe or talk through his mouth, or eat, by his injuries.

The teenagers were part of a group travelling on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition, which was camping on the Von Postbreen glacier near Longyearbyen on Svalbard, north of the Norwegian mainland.

Mr Reid managed to shoot the bear in the head, ending the attack on August 5, but not before it had killed Horatio and injured two students, Patrick Flinders from Jersey and Scott Bennell-Smith from Cornwall, who were sharing a tent with him.

Mr Reid and 27-year-old fellow expedition leader Andy Ruck were also badly mauled by the bear before he managed to shoot it.

The parents of Horatio, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, who was an aspiring medical student, said after his death that he was "so excited about his plans to be a doctor".

In a statement, his relatives praised his "amazing sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself".

BSES ended the £3,000-per-head expedition on the advice of the Svalbard authorities and in accordance with the wishes of the group leaders, and all those on it have returned home.

An independent investigation has been launched into the polar bear attack, and the organisers of the expedition vowed to "leave no stone unturned".

Police in Svalbard are continuing to investigate the incident but forensic examination into the case could take longer than usual because of the Norway massacre in Oslo and Utoya.

A spokesman for the governor of Svalbard said items from the camp where the bear attack happened would be sent to the forensic laboratory in Oslo but the results could take "some time".