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Polar bear attack 'inconceivable', father of Mike Reid says

Category: England

Published: 6th Aug 2011 11:29:12

The father of a man from Plymouth who was part of a group mauled by a polar bear in the Arctic has said what happened was "inconceivable".

Peter Reid said his son Mike, 29, was a team leader on the trip to Svalbard in which a 17-year-old boy died.

Mr Reid said doctors treating his son's head and neck injuries described them as not life-threatening, but "serious".

Five people were mauled. Of those, Horatio Chapple, 17, from Wiltshire, was killed, and the other four injured.

Scott Bennell Smith, 17, from south-east Cornwall, who went to Devonport High School for Boys in Plymouth, was also one of the injured, the school confirmed.

The trip for 80 people was organised by the British Schools Exploring Society, a youth development charity based in London.

The attack on the campsite, near the Von Post glacier, about 25 miles (40km) from Longyearbyen, took place early on Friday.

The bear was shot dead by a member of the group.

Mr Reid said his son was one of the team leaders responsible for science experiments and had also been involved in training.

He said: "It's what he loves to do.

"He was so excited to be going when we spoke to him four days ago.

"We were shaken by the news, but we have a son alive and under very good medical care in Norway.

"There's a family in Wiltshire who have lost their son. For us, their grief must be unimaginable."

Mr Reid said the incident had come as a complete shock.

He said: "In all honesty, we were more worried last year when he went to Afghanistan to climb.

"This was such a rare and unlikely event, it was inconceivable.

"If he is medi-vacced back to Britain, we're very keen that he comes to Derriford Hospital [in Plymouth]. We want him in our local excellent hospital if we can."

Polar bears are one of the largest land carnivores, reaching up to 8ft (2.5m) and weighing 800kg (125 stone).

Earlier this year, the governor's office warned people about bear attacks after several were spotted near Longyearbyen.

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BBC News, 2011. Polar bear attack 'inconceivable', father of Mike Reid says [Online] (Updated 6th Aug 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/175838/Polar-bear-attack-inconceivable-father-of-Mike-Reid-says [Accessed 2nd Sep 2014]

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