Death by Metal Drinking Straw Is Now a Thing

UK woman fatally impaled on straw stuck in lid
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2019 10:10 AM CDT
Death by Metal Drinking Straw Is Now a Thing
Stock photo.   (Getty Images)

A coroner is warning people to never fix metal drinking straws in place after the truly horrifying case of an English woman impaled in the eye. Elena Struthers-Gardner died after collapsing on a 10-inch stainless steel straw she had stuck in a screw-top lid on a Mason jar-style drinking glass at her home in Poole, Dorset, on Nov. 22, reports the Daily Echo. Struthers-Gardner's wife, Mandy, found her partner—a former jockey who occasionally collapsed as a result of spinal injuries—lying facedown on the floor, "making unusual gurgling sounds," per the Independent. Turning her over, she saw that the straw was stuck in Struthers-Gardner's left eye socket. Still in the intact glass, it had pierced the 60-year-old's brain before stopping at the back of her skull, reports Yahoo.

Police said medical officials "had never seen an injury like that," per the Independent. Speaking at the coroner's inquest, per the Echo, Mandy Struthers-Gardner said she worried for "children, or even able-bodied people losing their footing." She added after the inquest, per the Independent: "I hope this never happens to anyone else." So, too, does coroner Brendan Allen, who reached a conclusion of accidental death from a traumatic brain injury. "If the lid hadn't been in place, the straw would have moved away," which is why "metal straws should not be used with any form of lid that holds them in place," he says. "Great care should be taken" when using the straws in any position, Allen adds: "If someone does fall on one and it's pointed in the wrong direction, serious injury can occur." (Metal straws are becoming popular amid pushback against single-use plastics.)

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