Teenager Killed by Polar Bear Because Adult Forgot To Turn Off Mauser 98K Safety

Horatio Chapple

Horatio Chapple

A British Teenager on vacation with the British Schools Exploring Society was killed by a Polar Bear in the Svalbard islands. The Guardian reports

Horatio Chapple, 17, was on an adventure holiday to the remote Svalbard islands in Norway with the British Schools Exploring Society (BSES) on 5 August 2011 when the bear ripped open his tent and dragged him out, causing mortal head injuries. Four others were hurt and the bear was shot dead by one of the group leaders in the attack which lasted just a few minutes.

Svalbard Tundra

Svalbard Tundra

One of the expedition leaders forgot to turn off the safety. He/she attempted to fire the camp Mauser 98K four or five times, each time squeezing the trigger and cycling the bolt, ejecting unfired rounds onto the ground.

The expedition’s science leader [identified in the report as L2] emerged from another tent. He grabbed the rifle and fired four or five times. On each occasion a bullet was simply ejected on to the ground leaving the rifle empty. The bear then turned on L2 and mauled him about the head, causing him to drop the gun.

“The mountain leader of the expedition [identified in the report as L1] did not know where the spare bullets were and shouted for help in finding them. He diverted the bear from L2 by throwing a stone at it. The bear turned on L1 and mauled him badly.

“Other team members were attacked by the bear until L2 found one of the bullets that had been ejected, loaded the rifle and shot the animal dead.”

Training in the use of the Mauser 98 K rifle had been limited to some general handling and the firing of four shots. “Good rifle drill is essential as the present case demonstrates. Likewise the party appears to have been unaware of where the spare ammunition was stored.

This tragedy might have been prevented if a few dollars had been spent on ammunition and training.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.