UK & World News

  • 10 July 2014, 2:47

Polar Bear Attack: I Heard Growls And Screams

A teenager has told of the moment she heard a fellow student being fatally attacked by a polar bear during a Norwegian adventure holiday.

Lauren Beech, from Guildford, Surrey, has been telling the inquest into the death of Horatio Chapple, 17, that she saw the white fur of the bear from her tent.

"I heard growls of the bear along with other shouts and screams," she said at the inquest in Salisbury. "I was very distressed and I do not think I had any idea of the timescale."

Scott Bennell-Smith, from St Mellion in Cornwall, was lying asleep in the same tent as Horatio when it started shaking.

He said: "The material of the tent roof collapsed over all three of us and I could feel the presence of the bear over all of us. I could feel the size of it and see its paws.

"When the material collapsed over me I couldn't see what was happening.

"From what I remember I think we were all shouting the same thing ... shouting for help."

Mr Bennell-Smith, 20, who was 16 at the time, added: "The material had all ripped, it had fallen about either side of us. I saw the bear attacking someone.

"I think it was right in the centre of the camp, biting (him) in the head.

"I just put my head down again and tried to stay still basically then I could just hear the bear moving around the camp, just heard commotion."

He was then attacked and injured by the bear, before it was shot.

Horatio was on the adventure holiday to the remote Svalbard islands in August 2011 with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) when he died.

The Eton pupil from Salisbury, Wiltshire, suffered fatal injuries to his head and upper body.

Four others were hurt before the bear was shot dead at the camp site, where the group, known as Chanzin Fire, had been staying.

Also injured during the incident were trip leader Michael "Spike" Reid, from Plymouth, Devon, Andrew Ruck, from Brighton, and Patrick Flinders, from Jersey.

Ms Beech told the inquest that Horatio had found a bear print in the ground just two days before the attack.

She also said she found out after the incident that the local authorities had issued a warning about increased polar bear activities in recent months before the attack.

Mr Flinders, who was in the tent with Horatio, said: "Once the tent collapsed I got into a little ball and I moved myself over to Scott and I am not sure if Horatio got himself out of the tent or not.

"I thought I would peek out to see what was happening, I could see the bear with who I thought was one of the leaders, Spike, by the head. It was coming away from one of their tents."

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