Family hail son killed by polar bear after ‘no neglect’ ruling

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The family of an Eton schoolboy mauled to death by a polar bear in Norway have spoken of their pride that his actions may have saved others on the expedition.

A coroner yesterday cleared an expedition company of “neglect” in respect of its responsibility to protect Horatio Chapple, 17, being attacked by the bear.

Ian Singleton, assistant coroner for Wiltshire and Swindon, returned a narrative verdict at the conclusion of a five-week inquest into the death of Horatio, who died on an adventure holiday to the remote Svalbard islands in August 2011 with the British Schools Exploring Society – now renamed the British Exploring Society.

After the hearing, Horatio’s parents, GP Olivia and surgeon David Chapple, said they hoped new safety standards would be made mandatory to ensure future expedition groups were fully protected and to prevent further tragedies.

They also said they took comfort in their belief that Horatio’s “courageous actions” may have distracted the bear and prevented other members of the group being killed.

The family called for BS8848, the British Standard for organising expeditions outside the UK which was drafted in 2007 with a revised version released this April, to be made into law.

They said: “Anyone listening to the evidence during this inquest will understand our sorrow at the nature of Horatio’s death and the terrible ordeal experienced by all those on the trip. From the accounts we have heard, we take some small comfort from the fact that Horatio’s courageous actions may have distracted the bear, preventing others from being killed.”

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