A woman died after falling onto an eco-friendly metal straw which pierced her eye and caused a traumatic brain injury.
Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60, collapsed in her home in Broadstone, Poole, Dorset, on November 22 while carrying a mason jar with a screw top lid.
Upon falling, the 10-inch stainless steel straw, which was inside the glass, entered her left eye socket and pierced her brain, causing fatal brain injuries.
Metal straws are known for being an eco-friendly alternative to plastic straws, and have grown in popularity in recent years in a bid to drastically reduce single-plastic use.
However, a coroner warned on Monday (July 8) that ‘great care should be taken’ while using metal drinking straws, and they should never be used with a lid that fixes them in place, The Telegraph reports.
Elena’s wife, Mandy Struthers-Gardner, was at home with her when the incident occurred and called an ambulance straight away, but the 60-year-old died in hospital the next day.
The straw damaged Elena’s brain stem, which controls breathing, with the tip of the pipe coming to a rest against the back of her skull.
Dr David Parham, who carried out her post-mortem examination, determined the cause of death was a traumatic brain injury and confirmed the straw pierced ‘through her left eyelid and left eyeball’.
Mrs Struthers-Gardner, who was involved in the professional equestrian world in her younger years, suffered a fall at the age of 21 and suffered with mobility issues ever since. As such, she was prone to falling over.
Her wife of four years, Mandy, said Elena had multiple fractures in her spine and would often collapse ‘like a sack of potatoes at random intervals’.
Mandy said, as per The Telegraph:
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 [metal straws] are so long and very strong. Even if they don’t end a life they can be very dangerous.
Assistant coroner Brendan Allen said there was ‘insufficient evidence’ to explain how Elena came to fall.
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 metal straws.
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 to me these metal straws should not be used with any form of lid that holds them in place. It seems the main problem here is if the lid hadn’t been in place the straw would have moved away.
Mandy said she misses her wife ‘very much,’ adding: ‘She was taken far too early. I hope this never happens to anyone else.’
Our thoughts our with Elena’s loved ones at this difficult time.
Rest in peace, Elena.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677.
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).