No neglect in death of teenager killed by polar bear

Salisbury Journal: Horatio Chapple Horatio Chapple

A CORONER giving a narrative verdict at the end of an inquest into the death of a Bishopstone teenager killed by a polar bear said he has not found any evidence of neglect.

Horatio Chapple, 17, was mauled by the bear while on a British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) expedition in the Svalbard region of Norway on August 5, 2011.

Horatio was in a tent with two others on a snow bridge near to the Von Post Glacier when the bear broke into the camp.

The trip wire alarm system around the perimeter of the camp failed to go off.

Ian Singleton, assistant coroner, said it was likely that the system didn’t go off because the bear knocked over a supporting post.

Horatio tried to get out of his tent but the bear reared up and attacked him as he was trying to stand, mauling his head, face and neck.

The bear, which was elderly and suffering from pain from bad teeth, attacked and injured four others at the camp before being shot dead by one of the expedition leaders.

Mr Singleton found that although the group was missing items of equipment including parts of the trip wire system, BSES had not acted with neglect.

Recording a narrative verdict, he said: “I do not find that neglect is appropriate to be considered, as failure was not total or complete.”

The inquest at Salisbury Coroners Court heard the society that arranged the trip has changed its policy in light of the incident, following an independent inquiry carried out by former High Court judge Sir David Steel.

In a statement, Horatio’s parents David and Olivia Chapple said: “We hope now that the British Standard 8848 will become mandatory to protect other children like Horatio, who want to explore the world. These sensible guidelines were developed for organisations taking children on adventurous activities abroad, so that any parent handing their child into the care of a provider can be assured that the venture has been professionally planned and managed.

“We would urge parents to question the organisations who may be taking responsibility for the lives of their children. Ask the uncomfortable questions and only trust if you are completely satisfied with the answers.

“Our solace is the 17 years of love, kindness and courage which Horatio gave so many of us.”

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