Woman dies in freak accident after falling face-first on metal straw that went through her eye and impaled her brain
60-year-old Elena Struthers-Gardner suffered mobility issues after a serious horse riding accident at the age of 21, and apparently collapsed onto the mason jar she was holding at the time if the incident
A retired jockey lost her life in the most bizarre manner after she reportedly fell onto a metal drinking straw that went through her eyeball and pierced her brain, an inquest head on Monday.
Sixty-year-old Elena Struthers-Gardner sustained fatal brain injuries after the freak accident at her Broadstone, Dorset residence on November 22, Daily Mail reports. According to the report, Elena -- who suffered mobility issues after a serious horse riding accident at the age of 21 -- collapsed while carrying a mason jar glass with a screw-top lid, and the 10-inch stainless steel straw attached to the lid stabbed her left eye socket and impaled her brain.
A coroner at the inquest said that "great care should be taken" while using metal drinking straws -- an eco-friendly replacement for plastic straws, and they should never be used with a lid that holds them in one place.
In court, the late Elena's wife Mandy Struthers-Gardner recalled the moment she found her partner with the straw sticking out of her eye socket.
"I went to the kitchen door and could see Lena lying on her front at the doorway between the den (a room where she watched TV) and the kitchen," she said.
"She was making unusual gurgling sounds. Her glass cup was lying on the floor still intact and the straw was still in the jar," Mandy continued. "I noticed the straw was sticking into her head. I called 999 and requested an ambulance. While I was on the phone, Lena appeared to have stopped breathing. The lady on the phone asked me to turn her over. I slid the glass off the straw and turned her over. I could see the straw had gone through her left eye."
Elena was subsequently rushed to Southampton General Hospital in Hampshire.
"I was quickly informed that due to the severity of her injury it was very unlikely she would survive," the devastated wife added. "We saw a couple of specialists and were told there was nothing they could do."
And so they decided to switch off Elena's life support, and she died the following day.
According to Mandy, Elena had suffered mobility issues after a serious horse riding accident at the age of 21. She became alcohol dependent after doctors reduced her fentanyl pain medication.
Unfortunately, Elena had been drinking around half a liter of vodka a day to cope with the pain in the months leading up to her death. She usually mixed it with orange juice and the metal straws were a birthday gift for her.
The riding accident had caused multiple fractures to Elena's lumbar spine that resulted in scoliosis. The pain from her injuries made her prone to falling over, and she often collapsed "like a sack of potatoes", Mandy added.
Dr. David Parham told the inquest the cause of death was determined to be traumatic brain injury after the straw pierced "through her left eyelid and left eyeball." Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Wayne Seymour, who investigated the death, said the case was very unusual.
"Medical staff had never seen an injury like that," he said. "They said it was unusual more than anything else."
Assistant Coroner Brendan Allen recorded a conclusion of accidental death.
"There is insufficient evidence to explain how Lena came to fall," he said. "It does not allow me to conclude that any reduction in fentanyl cause Lena's 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," he added. "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 straw 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 spoke to reporters after the inquest.
"I miss her very much, she was taken far too early," she said. "I hope this never happens to anyone else."