Playground death girl ‘hit by boy’
Monday 4th November 2013, 7:21PM GMT.
An eight-year-old girl died after she was hit by a boy running at speed in a playground game and then fell onto a recycled railway sleeper, an inquest has heard.
Freya James was playing a game called Jails when one boy chasing another in the game Bulldog ran into her, a jury at West London Coroner’s Court was told.
She then fell onto one of the wooden sleepers that were in the playground at Trafalgar Junior School in Twickenham, south west London.
Coroner Jeremy Chipperfield told the jury: “At lunchtime on February 14 this year children were in the playground to finish their break.
“There were a number of items of play equipment, furniture such as chairs, and some recycled railway sleepers. A number of staff supervise lunch play.
“There were a number of games going on, among them a game called Bulldog, and Jails, and Freya was playing Jails.
“At about 1.15pm, there was a collision between a boy who was playing Bulldog, and Freya.
“They were in different years, and may well not even have known each other to talk to.
“As a result, she fell, and in falling struck one of the sleepers that was in the playground.”
A teaching assistant noticed her sitting on the floor surrounded by other girls. “She approached her and she said she had hurt her tummy.”
Freya walked to a room used for first aid, and an ambulance was called.
The first paramedic arrived at 1.30pm, and an ambulance 10 minutes later.
Oxygen was given, and observations made, and she left in the ambulance at 1.50pm, arriving at 2pm at West Middlesex University Hospital.
“You will hear of the efforts that were made to save her, but tragically she died just before 4pm that afternoon.”
A post mortem examination showed injuries to liver and spleen which were consistent with blunt force trauma.
“The conclusion was there was a liver laceration which caused internal bleeding and that resulted in Freya’s death.”
Pathologist Dr Andreas Marnerides, of St Thomas’s Hospital, who carried out the post mortem, said the injuries were consistent with falling on the sleeper.
However, asked whether she would have sustained them if she fell on a flat playground, he said: “It might be the same type of trauma.”
Asked if they were consistent with a collision between two children, he said: “No.”
And asked if such incidents were common in playgrounds, he said: “I’m not aware of the exact statistical numbers, but I’ve seen it before.”
Detective Inspector Andrew Dunn said the boy was interviewed by police.
“He said he and other boys were playing Bulldog, a game where children chase each other – it’s a team game with lots of running around.
“He was chasing a specific other boy, he was running at speed through the playground.
“Asked how fast he was running, on a scale of one to 10, he said he was running at a speed of eight.
“He swerved to avoid a collision with one other child, and ran into a young girl who he later believed to be Freya.
“As a result of the impact, Freya fell onto a railway sleeper, and fell stomach and hand down.”
DI Dunn said there was no sign that the boy was lying, and he was quite open in his answers.
“I have found no evidence of malice or criminal intent, and haven’t submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.”
Freya’s family live in Twickenham.
Teaching assistant Caroline Seabrook said it was not apparent that day that Bulldog was being played.
Asked if it had been identified as an inappropriate game, she said: “I don’t really know.”
She added: “When very large groups of children charge across the playground, that’s when we intervene.”
There were seven people involved in supervising at lunch break that day, Ms Seabrook said.
A child came to tell her that somebody had fallen, in an unrelated incident, and she was about to walk over there when she looked around and saw Freya sitting on the floor with three friends around her.
“I was a bit confused, I didn’t know if they were playing.”
Then the boy came up to her and said he had bumped into her, and he thought she might be hurt.
“He said he’d accidentally banged into her.”
Ms Seabrook went to Freya, and the child said she had hurt her tummy. There was nothing else about her that gave her concern.
She took Freya to a classroom where another woman, Annabelle Hogg, was giving any medical help that was needed.
Freya was sick and then looked as if she was about to pass out.
“We tipped the chair back so her feet were higher, and Mrs Hogg sent the boy to get a wheelchair.
“Her legs failed, and Mrs Hogg said to get an ambulance – the boy hadn’t even come back with the wheelchair.
“I ran to the office to get them to call an ambulance, and ran back again, and Mrs Hogg had put her in the recovery position. I was holding her hand and stroking her head.
“She wasn’t talking, but she would look at us, she was going in and out of consciousness.”
Freya was taken to the ambulance in a wheelchair.
Asked what the girl’s condition was like compared with when she had been in the playground, Ms Seabrook said: “Completely different.”
The hearing was adjourned until 10am tomorrow.