Tributes to ball tragedy girl, 12

Wharfedale Observer: A general view of Woodlands Comprehensive School in Takely End, Basildon, where Leonie Nice died after being hit by a rugby ball A general view of Woodlands Comprehensive School in Takely End, Basildon, where Leonie Nice died after being hit by a rugby ball

Tributes have been paid to a 12-year-old girl who died after being hit by a rugby ball during a PE lesson at a school.

Leonie Nice was catching the ball during a lesson at Woodlands Comprehensive School in Takely End Basildon, Essex, when she was hit in the chest and fell over, appearing to have a fit, Essex County Council said.

Emergency services were called after the incident, and Leonie was taken to Basildon Hospital but died soon afterwards.

Andy White, headteacher at Woodlands, paid tribute to Year 7 pupil Leonie as a "promising, delightful and kind girl".

He said: "Leonie Nice, a year 7 pupil, was catching a rugby ball in a PE lesson when she was hit in the chest by the ball. Leonie keeled over and appeared to go into a fit. Our trained first-aiders gave CPR at the scene and the ambulance arrived quickly.

"Leonie was taken by ambulance to Basildon Hospital where despite everyone's best efforts, Leonie was pronounced dead. The pupils and parents have been informed of this sad event and students who require support are being looked after by our own staff and specialist staff from Essex County Council's support team.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with her family at this time. Leonie was a promising, delightful and kind girl who will be greatly missed by all the staff and pupils of Woodlands School."

Gary Sanderson, spokesman for East of England Ambulance Service, said: "First and foremost our thoughts are firmly with the girl's family at this tragic time. The ambulance crew arrived at the scene within one minute and found the girl in a critical condition. Following rapid treatment and stabilisation, she was taken to an awaiting medical team at Basildon Hospital where sadly she died shortly after."

Essex Police said they were also called to the scene.

The incident comes a fortnight after 16-year-old Kyle Rees died after being struck by a cricket ball at Portchester School in Bournemouth, Dorset. A 16-year-old boy arrested on suspicion of manslaughter was released without charge and police confirmed the schoolboy's death was a "tragic accident".

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