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Monday, August 8, 2011

Brave teenager left with killer polar bear's TEETH lodged in his skull after trying to fight off the beast as it attacked his friends

-Eton pupil Horatio Chapple, 17, killed in horrific expedition bear attack
-Patrick Flinders fought off bear by 'smashing animal on the nose'
-Schoolboy survivors transferred back to Britain for recovery

By Daily Mail Reporter

The father of a teenager who survived last week's Arctic polar bear attack has described his son's heroics which left him with the creature's teeth embedded in his skull.

Patrick Flinders suffered a fractured skull after punching the 14ft polar bear in the face during the attack which saw his friend Horatio Chapple, 17, 'ripped to pieces'.

The 16-year-old has been hailed a 'hero' by his father after 'fighting for his life' during the horrific episode on Friday.

Hero: Patrick Flinders was left with the polar bear's teeth lodged in his skull after the attack on Friday

Terry Flinders said his son was bitten on the arm and swiped in the face by the 250kg animal before Patrick tried to defend the group by jumping on the bear and 'smashing its nose' as it attacked their tent.

Horatio Chapple died following the attack on Spitsbergen island, Norway, while Patrick, from Jersey, along with friend Scott Bennell-Smith, 16, survived and were flown to the UK on Sunday.

Patrick underwent surgery to remove the bear's teeth from his skull and is now said to be 'conscious and lucid' at Southampton General Hospital.

Trip leaders Michael 'Spike' Reid, 29, from Plymouth and Andrew Ruck, 27, who is from Brighton but lives in Edinburgh, were severely injured in the bear attack, but are now stable.

Mr Reid shot the bear dead, but was also mauled himself.

Terry Flinders said the ordeal his son went through would have affected 'even hardened SAS men', as his son and Mr Bennell-Smith saw Hortatio attacked in the same tent.

Mr Flinders told the BBC Today programme: '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.

'Patrick said he can't remember doing it, but I suppose it might come back to him later.'

'We are a small community here and he has become a hero.

'I've told him the girls will love him for his bravery, and he will be able to walk through town on a Friday night without any trouble because people will know him as the guy who punched a 14ft polar bear.

'If three SAS men, who are hardened people, had been in those tents and saw what Patrick and Scott saw - their friend being ripped to pieces - they must be affected by that, let alone a 16-year-old who fought for his life.

'His injuries are not my biggest worry because in six months time they will all be gone.

'But it must stay in his head and I don't see how anyone could put up with that.'

Patrick's parents had previously thought he had only been bitten on the arm and swiped in the face by the bear.

Mr Flinders added: 'I was told he had a broken skull, and said I didn't know about that.

'He had an operation to remove parts of the bear's teeth from his skull, and the surgeons did a fantastic job on him.'

Horatio Chapple, left, was killed by the bear, despite attempts to save him made by adventurer Mike Reid, right

Captured: The male polar bear is examined by an official after it was shot by members of the expedition

Corpse: Rescuers haul away the dead polar bear killed by Michael Reid. It ripped through a tent killing Horatio Chapple

Attack: One of the victims of the polar bear attack is carried from a helicopter in Longyearbyen yesterday

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.

'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.

Battle with the bear: An aerial view of the camp shows the four tents with the dead polar bear in the middle of the site having been killed by the group during the struggle

Recovery: Patrick Flinders has been transferred to Southampton General Hospital after an operation to remove the bear's teeth from his skull



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