British teenager Horatio Chapple was mauled to death by a polar bear last week on a remote Norwegian Island in the Arctic circle, triggering a series of comments that are emotionally detached and decidedly British. Four others, Patrick Flinders, Scott Smith, Andrew Ruck, and Michael Reid were injured in the encounter.
The group was part of a five week Arctic expedition run by the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES), a youth development charity focused on continuing the English tradition of hiking in some of the most hostile and deadly environments in the world.
Edward Watson, BSES chairman, issued the first unaware comment, saying, “When we sent this expedition to the wilderness of the Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago, where there are 2,400 people and 3,000 polar bears, we had no idea this would happen. I mean, yes, the place is over run by polar bears, but still.”
Survivor Patrick Flinder’s father, Terry, gave the first account of the attack and seemed be unfazed by the mauling. “There were three of them in a tent, why he chose the other boy, I don’t know – perhaps he was the closest one. If he looked at my son Patrick, he was the chubbiest one, he probably had more meat on him…” At this point, Terry Flinders stared blankly into space as he pondered about his own, slightly fatter son who would have made a better meal then the lean Chapple boy.
However, it was at the funeral for Horatio Chapple where some of the stranger comments were said. The victim was repeatedly remembered as strong and fearless, without a hint of irony, by friends and relatives who seemed to forget that the number one way to avoid polar bear attacks is to have a healthy fear of polar bears and where they choose to live.