Broadstone, United Kingdom
VIJAY SHAH via BETHANY BIRON/Daily Echo, Business Insider
A woman in the English village of Broadstone died in a freak accident after slipping and impaling herself on a metal straw attached to a mason jar she was drinking out of, reports Business Insider, raising questions as to the safety of such straws as authorities look to phase out single-use plastic straws.
Elena Struthers-Gardner, a 60-year-old retired jockey known as Lena, was walking around her home clutching the mason jar, popularised by hipsters as a trendy version of drinking glasses, when she stumbled and fell. The straw, described as measuring ten inches and made from stainless steel, entered her head through her left eye socket and allegedly pierced her brain, causing a lethal injury, a report in the Daily Echo newspaper stated.
A coroner at the court case that examined the horrific incident in Broadstone, a village on the outskirts of Poole in England’s Dorset county, stated that more needed to be done to understand the safety implications of such new ‘eco-straws’. Many organisations that cater in drinks to the general public have stopped offering plastic straws as these pose a threat to wildlife and take centuries to decompose. Some, such as fast food chain McDonald’s, have adopted cardboard straws, while others have switched to re-usable metal ones. Most metal straws stocked by restaurants nowadays fall into two categories: rigid single-piece straws and collapsible straws. The coroner warned: “that metal drinking straws should never be used with a lid that fixes them in place, and ‘great care should be taken’ while using them.”
Struthers-Gardner died in November 2018, and her wife, Mandy Struthers-Gardner, told the court of the day when she found Elena after the freak accident. She told the judge that she did not hear her partner fall but found her lying on the floor, making noises that were described in the original Daily Echo report as ‘strange’.
“I went to the kitchen door and could see Lena lying on her front at the doorway between the den and the kitchen,” Mandy Struthers-Gardner told the coroner in a statement. “She was making unusual gurgling sounds. 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. I called 999 [UK emergency services number] and requested an ambulance,” she added. The type and brand of straw that killed Lena was not mentioned in the coroner’s report or in the news articles. In an unrelated situation, coffee shop chain Starbucks stopped circulating a type of metal straw it sold to customers in 2016, after fears that the objects could cause customers to suffer risks of injuries.
“A woman reportedly died after falling and impaling herself on an eco-friendly metal straw” – Bethany Biron, Business Insider/Insider Inc. (9 July 2019) https://www.businessinsider.com/woman-dies-after-falling-on-metal-drinking-straw-report-2019-7