Sussex schoolboy Matthew Russo's choke death accidental

Matthew Russo
Image caption Matthew Russo's airways became blocked while eating a meal at Manor Green

A boy who choked on a piece of meat at a West Sussex school died accidentally, a coroner has said.

Matthew Russo, seven, died in hospital in September 2010 - 13 days after he choked at Manor Green Primary, Crawley.

He stopped breathing for up to 40 minutes during the incident at the special needs school in Ifield.

His father, Dominic Russo, told the inquest in Horsham that Matthew had a previous throat injury and needed his food cut into small pieces.

In a statement released after the hearing, the family said Matthew was a much-loved boy who died in a terrible accident.

'Quiet and gentle'

It said: "Matthew's accident happened at his school, Manor Green Primary School. The court has heard from those who tried to help him. It is clear to us that they all did absolutely everything they could.

"Matthew will never be forgotten. One of the ways in which he will be remembered is through the Matthew Russo Foundation. We were determined that some good would come out of this terrible tragedy."

The statement said the foundation worked to raise money for children with special needs, helping individual families as well as organisations.

The foundation had helped to fund the sensory garden at Manor Green school, it added.

Matthew was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition on 15 September and admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit at St George's Hospital, south London.

After his death, the school's acting head teacher Ginny Marshall described him as "a quiet, gentle little boy who loved school" and who would be missed by everyone.

Manor Green caters for children aged between two and 11 who have learning difficulties and additional needs.

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