A woman in the United Kingdom died by accidental impalement through her left eye and brain. The culprit—a reusable metal straw in a mason jar-style glass. The coroner who worked on her case has since issued warnings over the use of these trendy and otherwise environmentally sound replacements for disposable plastic straws.
As first reported by The Independent, former jockey Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60, met an untimely death when a metal drinking straw that was in a mason jar she was carrying impaled her through the left eye and pierced her brain.
It was November 2018, and Struthers-Gardner was in the home she shares with her wife in Poole, which is in Dorset, England. She was reportedly holding a mason jar-style drinking glass with a screwed-on lid and a metal straw inserted in it when she collapsed.
Struthers-Gardner fell face-forward onto the 10-inch-long stainless steel straw, which was held in place by the lid of the mason jar. The metal straw impaled her, entering through her left eye and piercing her brain.
The former jockey got into an unfortunate riding accident when she was 21 and has since had difficulties with mobility, collapsing often (and without warning) because of serious spinal injuries.
Struthers-Gardner’s wife, Mandy, narrated what happened next in a statement:
”I did not hear her fall. I went to the kitchen door and could see Lena lying on her front at the doorway between the den and the kitchen. She was making unusual gurgling sounds. Her glass cup was lying on the floor still intact and the straw was still in the jar. I noticed the straw was sticking into her head.
I called 999 and requested an ambulance. While I was on the phone, Lena appeared to have stopped breathing. The lady on the phone asked me to turn her over. I slid the glass off the straw and turned her over. I could see the straw had gone through her left eye.”
Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour of Dorset Police reported that the medical workers “had never seen an injury like that”.
According to the Telegraph, the metal straw had caused damage to Struthers-Gardner’s brain stem, with the tip of the straw touching the back of her skull.
Sadly, Struthers-Gardner did not make it and died from her injuries the next day at the hospital.
Coroner Brendan Allen issued strong words of warning regarding the use of metal straws, which have become a trendy item in the green living, eco-friendly movement.
Allen advised extreme care and caution when handling and using metal straws, especially when used with a lid that holds them in place.
“There is no give in them at all. If someone does fall on one and it’s pointed in the wrong direction, serious injury can occur.
It seems the main problem here is if the lid hadn’t been in place the straw would have moved away.”
Struthers-Gardner’s wife shared similar sentiments, specifically advising that those with mobility issues exercise greater caution when using metal straws.
“I just feel that in the hands of mobility-challenged people like Elena or children, or even able-bodied people losing their footing, these things are so long and very strong.
Even if they don’t end a life they can be very dangerous.”
Struthers-Gardner’s wife hopes that others learn from what happened to her wife:
“I miss her very much, she was taken far too early. I hope this never happens to anyone else.”