Saturday 16 December 2017

Teeth removed from bear-attack survivor's head

Alan Martin

ONE of the survivors of last weekend's polar bear attack in Norway had an operation yesterday to remove some of the animal's teeth from his head.

Patrick Flinders (16) was hailed a hero after punching the 250kg animal on the nose in an attempt to scare it away after it mauled a schoolboy to death in Svalbard, Norway.

Patrick's father, Terry Flinders (58) said his son had a fractured skull and had undergone an operation in Norway to remove small pieces of bone and teeth. The bear had Patrick's head in its mouth but miraculously he escaped. He also suffered arm injuries.

The organisers of the expedition have vowed to "leave no stone unturned" in their investigation into events.

Horatio Chapple (17) was camping on the Von Postbreen glacier, near Longyearbyen, in Svalbard, Norway, with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) when their group came under attack on Friday.

Four other members of their group were injured and are being treated in hospital.

Michael "Spike" Reid (29), the expedition leader who shot the bear in the head, and 27-year-old fellow leader Andy Ruck left hospital yesterday morning.

Mr Flinders said his son's face and head were badly swollen but he spoke to him on the phone and he sounded well.

Recounting the conversation, Mr Flinders said: "He said: 'Dad, I've got a bone to pick with you, that bit you did in the paper where you said if the polar bear had glasses it would have gone for me because I was the chubbiest!' All the nurses have been laughing about it. When he tells me off I know he's getting back to normal."

Witness

BSES spokesman Edward Watson said: "Rest assured, we will leave no stone unturned in investigating the tragic incident on 5 August in Svalbard.

"The Norwegian authorities' inquiries are under way. In parallel we have begun to fully review procedures, examine equipment and gather witness statements to understand if anything could have been done to prevent this tragic incident from happening.

He said there would be no comment about the attack itself, at the request of Norwegian authorities, until their investigation was complete.

Mr Watson added: "A young man has lost his life, and four expedition members were injured. We remain committed to supporting those affected through this particularly difficult time in their lives."

Tributes have been paid to Horatio, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, who was an aspiring medic and was "so excited about his plans to be a doctor".

On Saturday, BSES announced it had decided to end the £3,000-a-head expedition on the advice of the Svalbard authorities and in accordance with the wishes of the group leaders.

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

Irish Independent

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