Plastic straws kill all kinds of marine life but metal straws can be equally hazardous in the right conditions. The environmentally friendly drinking option may have its first recorded death according to English tabloid The Daily Echo. The paper reports that a woman was killed by a drinking straw after slipping and impaling herself through the eye.
60-year-old former jockey Elena Struthers-Gardner fell onto a 10-inch drinking straw that was held in place by a mason-jar with a screw top lid. It went through her left eye and pierced her brain, leading to her death the next day.
“I did not hear her fall," her wife Mandy recalled in a statement read by the coroner. “I went to the kitchen door and could see Lena lying on her front at the doorway between the den and the kitchen. She was making unusual gurgling sounds."
Due to complications from a riding accident, Elena would occasionally collapse. Mandy said that she thinks the straws can be dangerous to people at risk of falling.
“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," she said.
Assitant coroner Brendan Allen said that users of the straws should not secure them in place.
"It seems to me these metal straw should not be used with any form of lid that holds them in place," he said. “It seems the main problem here is if the lid hadn’t been in place the straw would have moved away."
The news of Elena's inquest is making waves after Washington, D.C.'s new laws banning the use of plastic straws took effect. In the U.S. capital, fines of $100 to $800 are on offer for businesses found to be carrying plastic straws. Businesses are allowed to keep a small stock of the old straws for people with disabilities.