A SCHOOLBOY who died after being hit on the head by a ball, told friends he was fine before collapsing, an inquest heard.

The inquiry into the death of 16-year-old Kyle Rees started at Bournemouth Town Hall yesterday, with a jury of 10 sworn in to hear evidence from pupils and Kyle’s mother Tanya Cooper.

Kyle died on February 28 after being struck by an indoor hockey practice ball in the playground of Portchester School, known now as Harewood College.

He was taken by ambulance to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital before being transferred to Southampton General Hospital's neurological unit where he died the next day.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage from the school’s cameras, which did not show the incident itself, but pictured Kyle lying on the ground outside after being struck.

Footage from before the incident showed a playground full of pupils throwing various items including footballs, tennis balls, a shoe and even a chair, which was used as a bat to hit the items across the playground.

Jurors were told the pupils should have been going to lessons when the “ball fight”, as described by one witness, took place after afternoon registration.

Pupils giving evidence said they were just having fun and weren’t trying to hurt anyone.

In a police statement, read by DS Trevor Hawkins, one pupil, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he picked up the ball and was encouraged by Kyle to throw it.

The student was initially reticent because he did not want to get into trouble with a nearby teacher who had come out to usher the youngsters to class, the inquest heard.

But as the ball, which was not one used at the school, was thrown, Kyle stepped in its pathway and it struck him on the head.

The mother of the boy who threw the ball told Bournemouth Coroners Court a “big part” of her son died that day.

She said: “He is devastated. He can’t forgive himself.”

The jury was told by witnesses that Kyle seemed to be fine immediately after the impact but it rapidly became clear he was seriously injured.

The youngster said he needed to sit down and was holding his head saying it hurt before his breathing became heavy and he started frothing at the mouth, according to witnesses.

A Home Office pathologist, Dr Russell Delaney, said when paramedics arrived at the school, Kyle was in cardiac arrest as a result of a brain injury.

By the time he was transferred to Southampton General Hospital from Royal Bournemouth, Kyle’s brain injury had worsened to a state he could not recover from.

Asked if the youngster would have survived if he had received earlier treatment, Dr Delaney said: “This would be an unsurvivable injury regardless of what happened at the scene.”

Jurors were also taken on a site visit to Harewood College to see where the incident took place.

The inquest is expected hear from teachers today. We will be covering the hearing live from 10am.

Read yesterday's live coverage of the inquest

Kyle’s mother Tanya Cooper paid tribute to her “caring” son with the “huge personality and huge heart” at yesterday’s inquest.

Giving evidence, she said Kyle had been looking forward to taking up engineering at college after his GCSEs.

She said: “He was very caring, very lively.

“Since his death we have realised how popular he was. All the messages of support have been amazing. I know he would be really chuffed.”In reference to the youngster who threw the ball and cannot be named for legal reasons, she said: “The whole family just feels so bad for him to have to keep going through this.

“It is hard enough. Not for one second would any of us thought he would have done this on purpose.

“When we found out who threw the ball it was obvious it was an accident.

“He wouldn't have done that.”