Wednesday 26 July 2017

Survivors of killer polar bear fly home

Rosa Silverman and Margaret Davis

INJURED survivors of a polar-bear attack in Norway that left an Eton pupil dead were due to be evacuated to the UK last night.

Patrick Flinders and Scott Bennell-Smith were to be transferred to hospitals closer to home after landing on British soil.

The two teenagers were sharing a tent with fatally wounded Horatio Chapple (17) when the incident took place on Friday.

Patrick (16), from Jersey, has been hailed a hero and found local fame after punching the 250kg animal on the nose in an attempt to fend off the attack, his father said.

He and Scott (17), from St Mellion, Cornwall, underwent surgery after being mauled by the animal that killed their companion.

Terry Flinders (58), said he would be relieved to have his son back. The youngster was due to land at Southampton Airport yesterday evening and then be transported by ambulance to hospital in the city.

Mr Flinders said: "He's been in a bad way but people in Norway reckon he probably won't be in hospital for more than three days.

"I've spoken to him three times now, but the first time all he said was, 'Polar bear, polar bear, polar bear, polar bear. My eye. Dad, come and get me.'

"He phoned me the next day and said, 'I'm in pain, Dad.' And then he phoned this morning and sounded better.

"But he's only 16, he's not an SAS guy."

Mr Flinders told how he had been approached in a local restaurant yesterday by people praising his son.

"They were saying, 'Are you Patrick's dad? What a hero.' In Jersey he's a star."

Camped

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

The society said the boys were being flown home under the care of a specialist medical evacuation team.

Plans were being made to bring home two other members of the party who were injured -- Michael "Spike" Reid (29), the expedition leader who shot the bear, and fellow leader Andy Ruck (27) -- when medics and transport authorities allow, the trip organisers added.

The eight other uninjured members of the group were also due to be returned to the UK last night and today.

Irish Independent

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