Published: Sat, July 13, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Metal straw death: Elena Struthers-Gardner killed as straw impaled brain

Metal straw death: Elena Struthers-Gardner killed as straw impaled brain

At the conclusion of an investigation on Monday, a United Kingdom coroner's office warned about the potential dangers of using fixed metal straws for people with mobility challenges after a disabled woman died from a traumatic brain injury caused by a metal straw.

Specifically, Struthers-Gardner was carrying a jar-style glass with a screw-top lid that held the straw in place.

The 10-inch straw had gone through Elena's left eye socket, reaching her brain stem until the back of her skull, as per report.

Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60, was a retired jockey and had mobility difficulties because of a horse-riding accident in her 20s.

Struthers-Gardner's wife of four years, Mandy, walked in to find Struthers-Gardner lying face-down on the floor making "unusual gurgling sounds" and immediately called an ambulance.

"I did not hear her fall", said Mandy in a statement read by the coroner.

Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour, who carried out an investigation into her death, said the case was very unusual. I called 999. While I was on the phone, Lena appeared to have stopped breathing.

'I slid the glass off the straw and turned her over.

Medical staff had never seen such an injury caused by a metal straw.


Mrs Struthers-Gardner was rushed to Southampton General Hospital, Hampshire.

Her death led assistant coroner Brendan Allen to warn people about the potential dangers of using fixed metal reusable straws during an inquest hearing.

In 2016, Starbucks was forced to recall more than 2.8 million metal straws after children who used the coffee giant's stock were left with cuts in their mouths, reported the Daily Mail.

Though new laws restricting the use of plastic straws help protect the environment, many of these eco-friendly materials aren't a great option for people with disabilities because they're too heavy, inflexible or hard to clean, among other difficulties and risk for harm.

Officials learned she was dependent on alcohol after her fentanyl pain medication was reduced, but toxicology reports showed that none of that was present when she died.

The metal straw movement looks to cut down on the number of plastic straws that end up in the ocean, where they pose a danger to animals like sea turtles.

Added the victim's brother: "These straws can very easily be lethal".

She was placed on life support which was switched off the following day as doctors could not save her.

'I hope this never happens to anyone else'.

Like this: