Liam Collier, 15, died on a rope swing just two months after his mother Deborah, 35, lost a battle with cancer.
But the boy’s stepfather Alan Collier told the Sheffield hearing Liam was a 'joker' and had never spoken about harming himself following his mother’s death.
He had been in a normal mood and was even 'playfighting' before he was found in a small wooded ravine about 400 yards from his home.
Asked by assistant deputy coroner Louise Slater if he might have been playing a prank that backfired, Mr Collier, 47, replied: 'I do believe that, yes.
'His personality was far better than anybody else’s. He could make a party into a good party. His personality was second to none, he was a joker.
'My thoughts mainly are that something went wrong, terribly wrong that day.'
Liam, from Elsecar, near Barnsley left home to meet friends at 6pm on Monday, April 30 last year.
Two hours later family friend Keith Winder’s partner got a call from his stepdaughter who was 'in hysterics' and screaming that Liam had hanged himself.
Mr Winder was the first adult on the scene and said: 'I was running down the banking and all the kids were at the bottom. They were all just screaming and I didn’t see Liam at first.'
He tried to support Liam’s weight as paramedics were called but efforts to resuscitate the schoolboy failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detective Sergeant Helena Day said Liam had two photographs on him which he had shown to his friends and said one was of his biological father.
Liam, who leaves three brothers, had been alone on a rope swing and his friends were not paying attention to what he was doing.
DS Day, who carried out inquiries said: 'A few of the young people did mention that following his mother’s death Liam had spoken about taking his own life.
'Two young people in particular mentioned that Liam had told them he had made slits to his wrist.'
But no adults had seen the marks and his friends did not take the matter further so it was 'very difficult' to conclude what had happened.
The police decided there were no suspicious circumstances and the cause of death was given as hanging.
Recording a narrative verdict, the coroner told the schoolboy’s family: 'The circumstances surrounding Liam’s death are particularly sad and tragic, I’m really sorry for your loss.'
After the hearing Mr Collier paid tribute to 'outgoing' Liam whom he nicknamed 'Jack the lad.'
He said: 'It’s been rough. I’m glad with the verdict. I think it sums it up. I believe it was a prank gone wrong.'
One neighbour at the time of Liam’s death spoke of 'a cheeky and mischievous lad with a heart of gold' while tributes on a memorial website included one from an aunt which read 'you brought endless sunshine until you went away.'