The death of a 16-year-old Bournemouth schoolboy after being hit by a hockey ball thrown by another pupil, was a tragic accident, an inquest jury found.
Kyle Rees was hit on the head at close range and with full force by the practice ball in the playground of Portchester School in Bournemouth, Dorset, thrown by a friend, as boys threw balls and other objects at each other in a “playful ball fight”.
He suffered a severe head injury that was not survivable and died in hospital the following day.
In a narrative verdict, the jury at Bournemouth Coroner’s Court said: “The friend did not intend to harm Kyle or anybody.”
The verdict also said that there had been no previous concerns about supervision for the boys during the changeover time before the incident.
However, speaking after the hearing, Kyle’s mother Tanya Cooper said she was unhappy with the verdict.
She said the school had failed in its duty of care to her son and the ten-minute period when he was hit by the ball should have been supervised by teachers.
The three-day hearing heard the ball was thrown from a metre away at the end of the ball fight on February 27 after teachers had told the boys to go to classes.
Detective Sergeant Trevor Hawkins told the court Kyle had got in the way at the last minute.
The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was initially arrested on suspicion of manslaughter but he was not charged.
He was described as “extremely upset and distraught when he realised his friend was dead”.
After he was hit, Kyle said he had to lie down and was described as foaming at the mouth and rolling his eyes as a teacher and then paramedics tried to save him.
The ball was not used by the school and it was unknown where it had come from, the hearing heard. It also heard that some teachers had not been concerned about the incident, which was described as “exceptional” but others were concerned about the number of balls thrown even though there was no malice involved.
Debbie Godfrey-Phaure, executive headteacher of the school, said in a statement: “Everyone at the school was devastated when Kyle died.
“And we want to assure his family that he will not be forgotten and we will always be here for them.
“The school takes its duty of care towards all our children very seriously and always will. Kyle’s memory will live on at the school. We have installed a memorial bench, and an annual award for ‘promise in sport’ has been renamed the Kyle Rees Award.”