LONDON, ENGLAND — Police say that a 56-year-old man was fatally injured by a turnip hurled from a passing car, and that there have been nearly two dozen other instances of assault with fruits and vegetables.

At an inquest on Monday, Detective Superintendent Graham Howard said the death of Leslie Merry in July was being investigated as a murder.

Price said a healthier man might have survived the blow.

Merry was hit by a turnip while he was shopping in east London on July 14. He suffered a puntured lung and a rib was broken in tree places. His condition worsened after he was released from the hospital on July 16. He was readmitted the next day and died on July 23.

Dr. David Rouse, a pathologist, testified that Merry died of a ruptured spleen, caused by the impact of the turnip, and of acute respiratory failure and chronic pulmonary disease.

Price said a healthier man might have survived the blow.

Howard said there have been a number of incidents in east London in which various fruits and vegetables had been tossed from speeding vehicles. On April 19, he said, a jogger had been hit by a cabbage.

"In many cases where there is no injury the case does not get reported," he said. "Some of the incidents are undoubtedly associated with each other and with the unfortunate killing of Mr. Merry and the injury to a jogger."

Howard said the jogger's injuries had included a ruptured stomach and head and facial injuries.

The coroner, Dr. Harold Price, recorded an open verdict, and the investigation continues.