Mom in Taconic crash was drunk, high

November 15, 2009 7:43:00 PM PST
Toxicology reports show the mother driving the minivan in the Taconic crash that killed eight people had more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in her blood, as well as marijuana in her system.The District Attorney's office confirms 36-year-old Diane Schuler had a blood alcohol level of .19 and had high levels of THC, which is the main substance found in marijuana. Officials also say she had six grams of alcohol in her stomach that had yet to be digested and had smoked marijuana no more than an hour before the crash. A broken liter of vodka was also found in the car.

Schuler drove head-on into an SUV on the Taconic State Parkway, killing herself and four of the five children in her van, as well as the three occupants of the SUV.

An official says it is unlikely any criminal charges will be filed.

District Attorney Janet DiFiore released the following statement:

"The New York State Police have been investigating the cause of the July 26th collision on the Taconic State Parkway that took eight lives. The toxicology report prepared by the Westchester County Medical Examiner reveals that the driver of the vehicle traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of the parkway had a BAC of .19 - more than twice the legal limit. In addition, the report indicates that the driver was operating the vehicle while impaired by marijuana. My office, along with the New York State Police, will continue to investigate the facts and circumstances that led up to the collision causing the deaths, so that the public and the families of the victims can understand what lead to this horrific crash."

Schuler was returning to her West Babylon home from an upstate campground on July 26 when she got on the Taconic in the wrong direction. She drove for 1.7 miles before the crash.

Schuler, her 2-year-old daughter Erin and her three nieces, 8-year-old Emma Hance, 7-year-old Alyson Hance and 5-year-old Katie Hance died in the minivan. Guy Bastardi, his father Michael and family friend Daniel Longo, all of Yonkers, died in the SUV. Two others in another car that was hit and Schuler's 5-year-old son Bryan survived.

Schuler's husband Daniel, a Nassau County public safety officer, was driving home in a separate car with the family dog.

Mike Bastardi, Jr, who lost his father and brother in the crash, spoke with Eyewitness News reporter NJ Burkett, and said he is angered by the toxicology reports.

He said he had his suspicions that Diane Schuler was impaired, in some way, and said that anyone who knew she was impaired should be investigated and prosecuted.

CLICK HERE to read the transcript of NJ's interview with Michael Bastardi, Jr.

Authorities retracing Diane Schuler's steps say she crossed the Tappan Zee around 1 p.m. and pulled over on the Tarrytown end of the bridge. She then called her brother, Warren Hance, and told him she was not feeling well, having trouble seeing and feeling disoriented.

Police say Hance told Schuler to stay where she was and he would drive to her. Instead, Schuler drove off, leaving her cell phone. Less than 30 minutes later, she got on the Taconic in the wrong direction.

On Monday, authorities said witnesses believed they saw Diane Schuler's minivan on upstate Routes 17 and 87 before the crash. They said Schuler was straddling lanes, tailgating, flashing her headlights and beeping her horn.

One witness said the driver at one point tried to pass him on the shoulder of the highway.



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