Polar bear's teeth removed from head of attack survivor
- 8 August 2011
- From the section UK
A 16-year-old boy injured by a polar bear in Norway had some of the animal's teeth removed from his skull during emergency surgery, it has emerged.
Patrick Flinders, from Jersey, suffered a fractured skull and was flown to the UK on Sunday with fellow survivor Scott Bennell-Smith, 16, from Cornwall.
Patrick's father said he was a "hero" for trying to fight off the bear that killed Horatio Chapple, 17, on Friday.
Two expedition leaders with "severe" injuries will be flown home later.
Michael "Spike" Reid, 29, from Plymouth and Andrew Ruck, 27, who is from Brighton but lives in Edinburgh, are said to be in a "stable" condition.
The British Schools Exploring Society, a youth development charity which organised the expedition, said in a statement they would be admitted to hospital on arrival.
Mr Reid shot the bear dead, but was also mauled himself.
All four survivors injured in the attack on Spitsbergen island, Norway, had been receiving treatment at a hospital in Tromso.
Patrick's father Terry Flinders said his son was being treated at Southampton General Hospital, while he believed that Scott, from St Mellion, was taken to a hospital in Plymouth.
Mr Flinders said doctors in Southampton had told him that his son suffered a fractured skull and that some of the polar bear's teeth had to be removed from his head during surgery in Norway.
His parents had previously thought he had only been bitten on the arm and swiped in the face by the bear.
Patrick is said to be conscious and lucid and under observation by the medical team at the hospital.
'Jumped on bear'
Mr Flinders had earlier said his son had attempted to defend the group, saying he "tried to jump on it and smash the polar bear's nose" when the animal attacked the boys in their tent.
Scott shot but did not kill the bear, which then "went for Patrick, he bit his arm and then just swiped his face and top of his head. And then the same with Scottie," Mr Flinders said.
Referring to a conversation he had with his son, he said: "I told him 'you're a hero here mate, the way you attacked that bear'.
"He said he can't remember doing it, but I suppose it might come back to him later."
Doctors are set to assess Patrick on Monday in a bid to ascertain when he can be transferred home to Jersey.
Scott's father, Peter, said in a statement that Friday was the worst day of his life.
"It will never leave me to think how close Scott came to being killed that day," he said.
'Fearless and kind'
"I am so sorry for the loss of his new friend and fellow adventurer, Horatio. It is every parent's worst nightmare."
The family of Horatio paid tribute to him in a statement, describing him as "strong, fearless and kind".
They said Mr Chapple had been "so excited about his plans to be a doctor" and praised his "amazing sense of humour and ability to laugh at himself".
Eton College, where Mr Chapple was a pupil, expressed its deep sadness at the schoolboy's death and offered its condolences to his family and friends.
The attack on the campsite near the Von Post glacier about 25 miles (40km) from Longyearbyen, took place early on Friday.
The BSES, based in west London, organises scientific expeditions to remote areas to develop teamwork and a spirit of adventure. There were 80 people on the trip to Spitsbergen, which had been scheduled to run until 28 August.
Its statement said the eight uninjured members of the group involved in the incident had returned to the UK and were with their families.
The other groups would return on Tuesday, it added.