A five-year-old saw his best friend collapse and die in the school playground, an inquest heard.

The schoolboy, who cannot be named, raised the alarm after playmate Samuel Orola, five, collapsed in the adventure playground in Tolworth Infants School during lunch break on Thursday, September 15, last year.

The boy’s father gave hearsay evidence during the inquest and broke down at the stand as he recalled how his son told him with a tear stained face that he wanted Samuel back in his class.

The jury sitting at South West London Coroner’s Court on Wednesday, May 30, heard that the child was the only witness to the events leading up to Samuel collapsing in the playground. The inquest heard the five-year-old gave inconsistent evidence about what had happened and suggested Samuel, who was believed to be playing on a climbing frame, may have done a roly poly, a headstand and fallen from a bench, before collapsing.

His father said: “Our understanding is he (Samuel) had done a roly poly on the A frame then went towards the benches. He was being wobbly, going from bench to bench, fell off the bench and hit his head on a plant thing.”

The inquest heard two supervisors were overseeing about 30 Year 1 children in the adventure playground, which consisted of slides, monkey bars, a climbing frame, a tower and a tunnel. Head of play safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents David Yearly said he inspected the playground on September 20, last year, and found it fit for purpose.

On hearing of the incident two teachers on duty rushed over to Samuel, who was lying in the recovery position on the ground and appeared unconscious with some blood on his lips, the inquest heard.

Teaching assistant Vanessa Stewart checked his pulse and breathing, which she said was “raspy” and “irregular” and stopped just before the ambulance arrived.

Teaching assistant Jaishree Parekh, who wept as she gave evidence, described Samuel as a “lovely boy” who was “always happy”, “very kind and gentle” and cared for others.

Paramedic Alison Trenchfield carried out CPR on Samuel for 40 minutes and travelled with him in the ambulance to Kingston Hospital where was pronounced dead at 2pm.

She told the court another paramedic had spoken to Samuel’s friend, who said the boy had sat on a bench and said he felt unwell and tired and that he had got up walked a few steps before collapsing. Professor Sebastian Lucas, who carried out the post mortem, told the jury he was unable to find a clear cause of death and saw no signs of trauma despite looking at the evidence in minute detail.

He suggested a twist or bend in the neck could have strained the vagus nerve, which controls heartbeat and respiration, and can cause an immediate vegal cardiac arrest.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Eva Jurges, who treated Samuel on his arrival to hospital, suggested another possible cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia.

The inquest continues.