Polar bear death company cleared

Horatio Chapple

Horatio Chapple

First published in News

AN EXPEDITION company has been cleared of neglect after an Eton schoolboy was mauled to death by a polar bear.

Andrew Ruck, from Brighton, was one of two leaders on the tragic British School Exploring Society (BSES) trip to Norway in 2011 in which 17-year-old Horatio Chapple was killed.

The five-week inquest heard the group had been missing items of equipment including a tripwire alert system.

Coroner Ian Singleton, said BSES hadn’t acted with neglect"neglect" as failure was not “total or complete”.

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

Four others were injured in the incident, including Mr Ruck, who charged at the rampant bear and threw rocks at it.

Giving evidence at the inquest he described being woken up by the sound of rifle fire.

He said: “I then remember Spike [leader Michael Reid] or I opening the tent to see the polar bear there.

“He [Reid] tried to fire the rifle four times, bullets emptied out. He shouted: ‘It’s not working’ and then the bear came over to him and knocked him to the floor. I just charged towards the bear, shouted and picked up rocks and threw them at its face.

“I remember the bear then attacked me and knocked me straight to the floor, its paws were on my shoulder, I remember seizing its face. It swiped my face with its claw and my head ended up in its mouth at some point.

“The bear left me.”

The inquest heard their tripwire system worked “inconsistently”"inconsistently" and had missing parts with group members having to modify it with paper clips.

They were also supposed to have pen flares but a shortage meant only the leaders were equipped.

In his narrative verdict, Mr Singleton said the tripwire was not “100% foolproof” but that the modifications most likely improved it.

He also said the flares would not have prevented Horatio’s death as they were not designed to be used at close range.

He added the failure of Michael Reid to fire the rifle was not a contributing factor to Horatio’s death.

The inquest also heard the polar bear was elderly and had been suffering from worn-down teeth, which would have led to it becoming stressed and behaving “more aggressively and unpredictably”.

Mr Singleton added that Mr Chapple had died as a result of fatal injuries after being attacked by the bear.

Edward Watson, BSES chairman, expressed his “deepest sympathy to the Chapple family.”

Comments (8)

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10:57am Sat 19 Jul 14

The Real Phil says...

I am sure that I remember evidence being given that the company knew of the fault before they set off, which means that there incompetence could be regarded as corporate manslaughter.
A double tragedy for the family who not only lose a child, but then see those responsible walk free.
I am sure that I remember evidence being given that the company knew of the fault before they set off, which means that there incompetence could be regarded as corporate manslaughter. A double tragedy for the family who not only lose a child, but then see those responsible walk free. The Real Phil
  • Score: 1

12:20pm Sat 19 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

I cannot see how the company isn't to blame for this.
I cannot see how the company isn't to blame for this. stevo!!
  • Score: 0

1:29pm Sat 19 Jul 14

Aquamedic says...

Are we convinced that a fully-functional early warning tripwire would have stopped a toothache-enraged , determined polar bear savaging anything in its path? We cannot eliminate risk from life. When we do exciting things rather than stay at home wrapped in cotton wool, we accept that . Death of a young person is a tragedy and we should rightly support a grieving family. But why do we always feel the need to apportion blame? Let's accept that an inquest is a fair and objective assessment. The 2 leaders clearly acted with immense bravery and are scarred for life as a result. Should we shut down the company and deprive other young people of the chance for adventure? No. Assess risk, explain it, reduce it but accept that it cannot be eliminated.
Are we convinced that a fully-functional early warning tripwire would have stopped a toothache-enraged , determined polar bear savaging anything in its path? We cannot eliminate risk from life. When we do exciting things rather than stay at home wrapped in cotton wool, we accept that . Death of a young person is a tragedy and we should rightly support a grieving family. But why do we always feel the need to apportion blame? Let's accept that an inquest is a fair and objective assessment. The 2 leaders clearly acted with immense bravery and are scarred for life as a result. Should we shut down the company and deprive other young people of the chance for adventure? No. Assess risk, explain it, reduce it but accept that it cannot be eliminated. Aquamedic
  • Score: 6

3:07pm Sat 19 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

Aquamedic wrote:
Are we convinced that a fully-functional early warning tripwire would have stopped a toothache-enraged , determined polar bear savaging anything in its path? We cannot eliminate risk from life. When we do exciting things rather than stay at home wrapped in cotton wool, we accept that . Death of a young person is a tragedy and we should rightly support a grieving family. But why do we always feel the need to apportion blame? Let's accept that an inquest is a fair and objective assessment. The 2 leaders clearly acted with immense bravery and are scarred for life as a result. Should we shut down the company and deprive other young people of the chance for adventure? No. Assess risk, explain it, reduce it but accept that it cannot be eliminated.
But it was the company's responsibility to ensure that the trip wire WAS functioning, regardless of any effect it might have had.

And if such things are useless, why have them in the first place?
[quote][p][bold]Aquamedic[/bold] wrote: Are we convinced that a fully-functional early warning tripwire would have stopped a toothache-enraged , determined polar bear savaging anything in its path? We cannot eliminate risk from life. When we do exciting things rather than stay at home wrapped in cotton wool, we accept that . Death of a young person is a tragedy and we should rightly support a grieving family. But why do we always feel the need to apportion blame? Let's accept that an inquest is a fair and objective assessment. The 2 leaders clearly acted with immense bravery and are scarred for life as a result. Should we shut down the company and deprive other young people of the chance for adventure? No. Assess risk, explain it, reduce it but accept that it cannot be eliminated.[/p][/quote]But it was the company's responsibility to ensure that the trip wire WAS functioning, regardless of any effect it might have had. And if such things are useless, why have them in the first place? stevo!!
  • Score: -1

5:16pm Sat 19 Jul 14

displayed says...

"AN EXPEDITION company has been cleared of neglect after an Eton schoolboy was mauled to death by a polar bear. "

So the fact is they sent on him on an expedition, but were not responsible for his well being and safety or the equipment and safety devices needed for such a risky and dangerous trip!

I see!
"AN EXPEDITION company has been cleared of neglect after an Eton schoolboy was mauled to death by a polar bear. " So the fact is they sent on him on an expedition, but were not responsible for his well being and safety or the equipment and safety devices needed for such a risky and dangerous trip! I see! displayed
  • Score: 0

5:58pm Sat 19 Jul 14

Dim Pysgota says...

The Real Phil wrote:
I am sure that I remember evidence being given that the company knew of the fault before they set off, which means that there incompetence could be regarded as corporate manslaughter.
A double tragedy for the family who not only lose a child, but then see those responsible walk free.
In a country where, owing to risk, it is the law to carry a gun. And you know you have safety equipment missing and your proximety alarm is faulty, would you still choose to camp ?
[quote][p][bold]The Real Phil[/bold] wrote: I am sure that I remember evidence being given that the company knew of the fault before they set off, which means that there incompetence could be regarded as corporate manslaughter. A double tragedy for the family who not only lose a child, but then see those responsible walk free.[/p][/quote]In a country where, owing to risk, it is the law to carry a gun. And you know you have safety equipment missing and your proximety alarm is faulty, would you still choose to camp ? Dim Pysgota
  • Score: 0

6:40pm Sat 19 Jul 14

NickBrt says...

Why do people need to go into territories of wild animals then get affronted when those animals act wild?
Why do people need to go into territories of wild animals then get affronted when those animals act wild? NickBrt
  • Score: 3

1:35pm Sun 20 Jul 14

stevo!! says...

NickBrt wrote:
Why do people need to go into territories of wild animals then get affronted when those animals act wild?
No-one has complained about the actions of the bear.
[quote][p][bold]NickBrt[/bold] wrote: Why do people need to go into territories of wild animals then get affronted when those animals act wild?[/p][/quote]No-one has complained about the actions of the bear. stevo!!
  • Score: 0

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