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Thread: Retired jockey (Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60), died after falling on eco-friendly metal straw which pierced her eye

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    Retired jockey (Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60), died after falling on eco-friendly metal straw which pierced her eye

    A retired jockey died when she fell onto an eco-friendly metal drinking straw which pierced through her eye and into her brain, an inquest has heard. Elena Struthers-Gardner, 60, suffered horrific brain injuries in the freak accident at her home in Broadstone, Poole, Dorset on November 22. She was carrying a mason jar glass with a screw-top lid into her kitchen when she collapsed and the 10in stainless steel straw impaled her left eye socket, stabbing her brain. The metal drinking straws should never be used with a lid that fixes them in place, and ?great care should be taken? while using them, a coroner said today.

    They have increased in popularity to replace single-use plastic straws since David Attenborough?s Blue Planet drew attention to the pollution of our oceans, with the UK alone throwing away 8.5 billion plastic straws every year. Elena?s wife Mandy Struthers-Gardner said in a statement read out in court: ?I did not hear her fall. ?I went to the kitchen door and could see Elena lying on her front at the doorway between the den (a room where she watched TV) and the kitchen.

    ?She was making unusual gurgling sounds. Her glass cup was lying on the floor still intact and the straw was still in the jar. They switched off the life support the following day.?I noticed the straw was sticking into her head. I called 999 and requested an ambulance. ?While I was on the phone, Elena 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 rushed to Southampton General Hospital. Her wife continued: ?I was quickly informed that due to the severity of her injury it was very unlikely she would survive. ?We saw a couple of specialists and were told there was nothing they could do.? Elena?s life support was switched off, and she died the next day.

    She suffered with mobility difficulties following a horse riding accident when she was 21, the inquest heard. Following a reduction in her high levels of fentanyl pain medication, she became alcohol dependant. Her wife Mandy Struthers-Gardner found her with the glass still attached to the metal straw in her eye. In the months leading up to her death, she had been drinking around half a litre of vodka a day, mixed with orange juice, from the mason jar cup, using the metal straw which was a birthday gift. Due to severe pain from her riding accident, which caused multiple fractures to Elena?s lumbar spine and caused scoliosis, she was prone to falling over, collapsing ?like a sack of potatoes? at random intervals, her wife added.

    Dr David Parham, who carried out her post-mortem examination, said the cause of death was a traumatic brain injury, after the straw pierced ?through her left eyelid and left eyeball?. DI Wayne Seymour, who carried out an investigation into the death after Bournemouth police were called by the hospital, said the case was very unusual. He said: ?Medical staff had never seen an injury like that. They said it was unusual more than anything else.? Reading a statement to the inquest, Robin Struthers, Elena?s brother, called for the coroner to comment on how easy it is to purchase metal straws, adding: ?These straws can very easily be lethal.? She collapsed and landed onto the metal straw (Picture: BNPS) Mandy added: ?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 are so long and very strong. ?Even if they don?t end a life they can be very dangerous.?

    Recording a conclusion of accidental death, assistant coroner Brendan Allen said: ?There is insufficient evidence to explain how Elena came to fall. ?It does not allow me to conclude that any reduction in fentanyl caused Elena?s fall. There was no alcohol present in the urine sample so intoxication did not contribute to the fall.? He added: ?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.? Speaking after the inquest, Mandy said: ?I miss her very much, she was taken far too early. I hope this never happens to anyone else.?

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    How horrible. Definitely not something you would think would happen. RIP.

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