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Jockey dies after eye pierced by metal straw

Tragedy: Elena Struthers-Gardner

A RETIRED jockey died after impaling herself on a metal drinking straw that pierced her eye and drove straight into her brain, an inquest heard yesterday.

Elena Struthers-Gardner fell over while carrying a mason jar-style glass with a screw-top lid that had a hole in the middle for the straw. She was left with fatal brain injuries after being stabbed through the left eyelid.

The 60-year-old was found making ‘unusual gurgling sounds’ by her wife Mandy Struthers-Gardner.

‘Her glass cup was lying on the floor still intact and the straw was still in the jar,’ the widow told Bournemouth coroner’s court.

‘I noticed the straw was sticking into her head. I called 999. 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 it had gone through her left eye.’

Mrs Struthers-Gardner was rushed to Southampton General Hospital but could not be saved because her injuries were so severe.

‘We were told there was nothing they could do,’ her wife said.

Mrs Struthers-Gardner’s life-support machine was turned off and she died on November 23 last year, a day after tragedy struck at her home in Poole, Dorset.

Due to severe pain from a riding accident, which left her with multiple fractures to her spine and caused scoliosis, she was prone to falling over, her wife said.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, assistant coroner Brendan Allen urged people not to use such straws in vessels that fix them in place. ‘Clearly great care should be taken when using these straws,’ he said.

‘If someone does fall on one and it’s pointed in the wrong direction, serious injury can occur.’

Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Struthers-Gardner’s widow said: ‘I miss her very much. I hope this never happens to anyone else.’