Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Retired jockey killed in freak accident involving eco-friendly metal straw

Retired jockey killed in freak accident involving eco-friendly metal straw

Metal straws may be eco-friendly, but a coroner has warned of the potential dangers they pose after a woman in England died a year ago in a freak accident.

On 22 November 2018, Elena Struthers-Gardner from the United Kingdom was carrying a glass cup - something like a mason jar - that had a stainless steel straw measuring 10 inches in the middle of the screw top lid, when she suddenly fainted and fell near her kitchen at her home in Broadstone village. "The 10-inch stainless steel straw entered her left eye socket and pierced her brain", reported the Daily Echo of Bournemouth.

Struthers-Gardner had suffered from mobility issues caused by a horse-riding accident when she was young, leaving her in pain that sometimes caused her to collapse.

The 60-year-old had been at her home in Dorset, which she shared with her wife of six years, Mandy Struthers-Gardner, when she was found on the floor of their kitchen making "unusual gurgling sounds".

Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour, who carried out an investigation into her death, said the case was very unusual.

"I noticed the straw was sticking into her head", she said in a statement, according to The Sun. I called 999. While I was on the phone, Lena appeared to have stopped breathing. It was only after she was turned over that the wife saw the straw had pierced her eye - and that it was still attached to the drinking jar.

Elena was rushed to the hospital but died from her injuries the next day.

In his report, Allen recommended that metal straws should not be used with any lid that holds them in place.

A 2018 push to ban single-use plastic straws elicited a wave of criticism and personal testimonies around the world, many from those with disabilities that prevent them from being able to lift cups high enough to drink and those who are prone to tremors or spasms, which make sharp metal straws particularly unsafe.

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"There was no alcohol present in the urine sample so intoxication did not contribute to the fall".

'Clearly great care should be taken when using these straws, ' he said.

Struthers-Gardner experienced mobility challenges due to spine injuries from a fall in her 20s, according to The Telegraph.

Mandy Struthers-Gardner and Robin Struthers, Elena's brother, have both called for stronger safety measures to be taken with the now-popular metal straws.

'Even if they don't end a life they can be very unsafe'.

Her life support was switched off and she died the next day in November a year ago.

Assistant coroner Brendan Allen said that "if the lid hadn't been in place, the straw would have moved away".

'I hope this never happens to anyone else'.

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