Reusable metal straws may be good for the planet, but they can also kill you.
The November 2018 death of Broadstone, England, resident Elena Struthers-Gardner has just been ruled accidental. According to the Daily Echo, the 60-year-old woman collapsed in her kitchen while holding a glass — whose 10-inch steel straw drove through her left eye socket and pierced her brain.
Specifically, Struthers-Gardner was carrying a jar-style glass with a screw-top lid that held the straw in place.
The cause of death was traumatic brain injury — and the coroner who investigated her gruesome end is warning others not to use metal straws in drink lids that keep them fixed in place.
“Clearly great care should be taken when using these metal straws,” assistant coroner Brendan Allen tells the Daily Echo in a statement. “There is no give in them at all.”
Struthers-Gardner, a retired jockey, was prone to falls following a riding accident she sustained at age 21, which left her with multiple fractures to her lumbar spine and scoliosis.
After collapsing in her kitchen on Nov. 22, 2018, her wife, Mandy Struthers-Gardner, found her lying face-down and making “unusual gurgling sounds.” 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.
“I did not hear her fall,” said Mandy in a statement read by the coroner. “Her glass cup was lying on the floor still intact and the straw was still in the jar. I noticed the straw was sticking into her head.”
Struthers-Gardner was rushed to a hospital in Southampton, in the south of England, but succumbed to the injury the next day.
“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,” said Mandy. “Even if they don’t end a life, they can be very dangerous.”