A coroner warned of the dangers of eco-friendly metal straws after a fatal accident in Poole, England.
Elena Struthers-Gardner, a 60-year-old retired jockey, was carrying a mason-jar drinking glass and using a metal straw fixed in place by the lid. She then fell, and the 10-inch stainless steel straw impaled her left eye and punctured her brain.
“Her glass cup was lying on the floor still intact, and the straw was still in the jar,” said Struthers-Gardner’s wife of the incident. “I noticed the straw was sticking into her head.”
Her wife found her on the floor making “unusual gurgling sounds,” and she was rushed to the hospital where medics said it was “unlikely she would survive” the horrific brain injuries.
Struthers-Gardner died after being removed from life support.
“It seems the main problem here is if the lid hadn’t been in place the straw would have moved away,” said assistant coroner Brendan Allen. “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.”
Allen added that great care should be taken while using metal straws, and they should never be used in a fixed lid.
The reason behind Struthers-Gardner’s collapse stems from a horse riding accident at age 21 that caused spinal fractures and scoliosis, thereby leading to mobility issues.
“I just feel that in the hands of mobility challenged people like Elena, or children, or even able-bodied people losing their footing, these [straws] are so long and very strong,” the wife said. “Even if they don’t end a life, they can be very dangerous.”
The English woman became alcohol-dependent in the months leading up to her death, but toxicology results proved she had no alcohol in her system the day she died.
“I miss her very much, she was taken far too early,” Struthers-Gardner’s wife said. “I hope this never happens to anyone else.”
Metal straws have gained popularity as plastic straw bans expand to states and countries. People buy them as an alternative to plastic straws because they are reusable and therefore considered friendlier to the environment.